Team news and stats ahead of Real Betis vs Celtic in the Europa League group stage on Thursday; kick-off 5.45pm.
Celtic will be without captain Callum McGregor. The Scotland midfielder will miss the Europa League opener in Spain after sustaining a knock, while attacker Liel Abada will be absent as he is observing the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.
With talismanic striker Kyogo Furuhashi also out, Hoops boss Ange Postecoglou knows his team face a stern test against a side who finished sixth in La Liga last term.
Right-back Anthony Ralston is available after missing last weekend’s win over Ross County as Celtic return to the city that hosted their 2003 UEFA Cup final defeat by Porto, when they memorably took a huge travelling support to Andalusia.
Postecoglou excited by Betis prospect
Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou: “We had somebody watch them watch play on Monday. We’ve got all the information we need on them. They’ve brought in one or two but they’re a pretty settled team. They had a fantastic season last year and they’ve got an outstanding manager but they’re the type of opposition we want to test ourselves against.
“It’s why we were so pleased to get into this group stage because we knew we’d get some pretty exciting fixtures. We want to enjoy it but we’ll only do that if we have an impact. Can we play our football against some quality opposition home and away?
“We’ll hopefully be involved in some special nights but I want the enjoyment to come from us believing in the kind of football team we want to be.
“I don’t want us to be fearful or hesitant. To truly take in an experience, I’ve always felt that you need to give all of yourself and believe in something, and usually, you come away having lived that experience to its fullest.”
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- This is the first-ever European meeting between Real Betis and Celtic, and the Spanish side’s first-ever game against Scottish opponents.
- Celtic have lost their last six major UEFA European matches against Spanish opposition by an aggregate score of 19-1 since they beat Barcelona 2-1 in November 2012 in the Champions League despite enjoying just 16% possession in that game.
- This is Real Betis’ first European campaign since 2018-19, when they competed in the UEFA Europa League and were eliminated in the last 32 by Rennes. They have only ever lost one of their 12 previous group stage matches in the competition (W5 D6), a 1-0 defeat to Lyon in November 2013, while they have never conceded more than once in a group stage game, keeping eight clean sheets.
- In all European competition, Celtic have never won an away match against Spanish opponents in 18 attempts against seven different teams (D3 L15). Their last Spanish visit was a 1-0 loss to Valencia in the UEFA Europa League in February 2019.
- Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou is the first-ever Australian to manage in the UEFA Europa League, while his opposite number Manuel Pellegrini is set to take charge of a Europa League match for the first time. However, the Chilean did manage Villarreal in the 2004-05 and 2007-08 UEFA Cup campaigns, losing just two of those 20 matches over the two seasons (W12 D6).