When Hein Vanhaezebrouck says he doesn’t believe his Anderlecht side are beating Celtic by three clear goals tonight, it’s tempting to think this is just an experienced coach playing the lowering expectations game. I must say though, my experience with Belgians generally and in football particularly, is that they tend to tell it like it is.

There is no point in beating your chest when the odds are stacked against you. History speaks against a thumping Anderlecht victory, too. The Brussels club have never recorded an away win in the Champions League by more than a one goal margin.

Celtic must go into the game forgetting about the huge cushion they have thanks to their excellent and fluent 3-0 win at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium in September. We have all seen teams try to play the percentages and end up too passive, too timid, too scared.

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Brendan Rodgers will tell his players to treat this as they would any home game against a team in a similar bracket, ability wise. There is work to be done and nothing comes easily in the most unforgiving club competition of them all. There can be no let ups or sleepwalking through the match.

Vanhaezebrouck has made reference to PSG and their 5-0 win on Matchday 1, feeling only a club like that can realistically envisage recording such a scoreline as the visiting side at Celtic Park. I think he’s right. This has always been a group of two halves for financial and resource reasons. As Rodgers has remarked, Celtic can’t be compared to Paris St Germain or Bayern Munich. But to analyse them against Anderlecht is, and was always going to be, fair game.

Both are big clubs with huge support bases, yet for reasons of geography, cannot compete with teams from the big five countries in European football. Reality is the Champions League group stage, but not every year, and then grabbing third place to win the parachute into the Europa League. Much beyond that would represent punching massively against their respective weights.

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While making the Europa League is the main object of the exercise for Celtic this evening, and I fully expect they will, there is also a cash bonus for an outright win of any type. Points make prizes in the Champions League and just for getting three points, there is the reward of 1.5 million Euro on offer. Not to be sniffed at!

Fans though will be more interested in just having Europa League to look forward to in the new year. I still remember the excitement levels surrounding the two meetings with Inter when last Celtic were involved in the knockout stages. The Europa League is a greatly improved competition.

Winning it, is no longer within the compass of a team from Scotland. But overcoming a couple of hurdles and further testing yourself in Europe is a very realistic goal.

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For Celtic to make sure of their presence in the last 32, the key early on will surely be to protect a defence that has been known to wobble against better opposition. Scott Brown’s role in doing just that can never be overplayed on these occasions and Oliver N’tcham may have to join in as well.

With Moussa Dembele having been declared fit, he has to play from the outset.

The lone note of caution is that Anderlecht are not the forlorn side we saw a couple of months ago. Their league form has improved greatly since Vanhaezebrouck took over from Rene Weiler. Anderlecht