Astana vs Celtic Glasgow – Champions League Preview

Astana vs Celtic Glasgow – Champions League Preview

Astana vs Celtic Glasgow, will be the second time that Celtic have to travel to Kazakhstan for a Champions League qualifier. In the 2013-14 season Celtic faced Shakhter Karagandy, who were forced to play in the brand new Astana Arena in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana.

The distance travelled and the summer heat may have been too much for the Scottish giants, as Shakhter demolished Celtic and won the game 2-0. Only an inspiring effort at Celtic Park two weeks later saved Celtic from an embarrassing result, as the Scots won 3-0 in front of an ecstatic crowd.

Now, three years later, Celtic will travel once again to Astana, this time to play FC Astana, which actually call the Astana Arena their home. Yet Celtic, which are managed by former Liverpool boss, Brendan Rodgers, can count themselves fortunate that they still have a fighting chance to reach the group stage of the Champions League.

In the second round of the Champions League qualifiers, Celtic travelled to Gibraltar to play the amateur club Lincoln Red Imps. To everyone’s surprise, Celtic were completely embarrassed when they lost the game in the shadow of the Rock of Gibraltar 1-0.

The matter was made even worse when Brendan Rodgers told the British press that he wasn’t embarrassed by the result. Nevertheless, Celtic once again was able to overturn the result at home at Celtic Park with a 3-0 victory.

But now, they face an opponent that will be significantly better than the amateurs from Gibraltar and have already participated in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.

FC Astana are, in many respects, Kazakhstan’s richest and most successful club. Owned by the state, (read more about this here) the team has almost unlimited resources to invest into players and infrastructure.

Furthermore, the club is a force at home, as the team remained unbeaten in three home matches against Benfica Lisbon, Atlético Madrid, and Galatasaray in the UEFA Champions League group stage last season. This season, the club also secured the third round of the Champions League qualification spots with a 2-1 victory, after 0-0 tie away from home, over the Lithuanian club Žalgiris Vilnius.

FC Astana, in addition, have the advantage that, unlike the Scottish Premiership, the Kazakhstan Premier League, where Astana currently comfortably lead the table, runs from early spring to late fall in the calendar year. Astana, therefore, will have a big advantage in terms of match fitness. In order to gain match fitness, Celtic are currently participating in the International Champions Cup, where they played Leicester City on Saturday (1-1).

FC Astana’s biggest star is the Serbian super talent Nemanja Maksimović. The central midfielder scored the game-winning goal for Serbia’s U-20 national team at the World Cup in New Zealand last year, and also scored the decisive goal against APOEL Nicosia, which paved Astana’s way into the group stage of the Champions League last season.

The squad from last season’s Champions League campaign has remained more or less intact, which is no surprise given the astronomical wages in Kazakhstan, and the club was able to bolster key positions by signing Serbian striker Djordje Despotović from Red Star Belgrade.

The key players for Astana’s Bulgarian manager, Stanimir Stoilov, are Maksimović and the Colombian Róger Cañas, who organize Astana’s 4-2-3-1 in midfield. Another important player is the Kazakh playmaker, Tanat Nuserbayev, who has been the club’s top scorer this season.

Overall, Astana are very well organized, and have proven that they can get results even against top clubs from Europe—Celtic will have to perform much better than what they showed against Red Imps if they want to advance to the next round.

By Manuel Veth –


  • comment-avatar
    Emre 8 years

    Celtic is a disgrace. I hope Astana will take revenge of Shakhtyor and take Rodgers out.

  • DISQUS: 1