Celtic draw Real Madrid but last-16 progress not out of the question

The Scottish champions will play Real Madrid, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Hoops to host champions: Celtic draw Real Madrid, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk in Champions League SNS Group

Celtic have been drawn to play against the European champions as they return to the group stages of the continent’s flagship tournament.

The Hoops qualified directly to the Champions League as winners of last season’s Scottish Premiership and they will now face a mouth watering tie against Spanish giants Real Madrid.

But with RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk also drawn out of the hat for a visit to the east end of Glasgow Ange Postecoglou’s men might fancy their chances of reaching the last 16 for the first time in nine years.

All three sides tasted defeat on their last visit to Parkhead and Celtic made the knockout stage the last time they were drawn against Shakhtar or Leipzig.

Here we take a look at Celtic’s three opponents.

Real Madrid

Benzema: French superstar set for Celtic park.SNS Group

As 14-times winners of the biggest prize club football has to offer the La Liga champions really need no introduction.

Despite being one of the biggest names in world football they are one of the few European giants that Celtic have yet to face in the Champions League era.

The last time the club’s came up against each other was in 1980 under the old European Cup format at the quarter-final stage.

Celtic won the first leg 2-0, thanks to goals from George McCluskey and Johnny Doyle, but lost out on a place in the last four with a 3-0 defeat in the return leg at the Bernabeu.

There is no doubt however that most Celtic fans would bite your hand off for the same results this time around when Karim Benzema and Luka Modric and co come to town.

Under manager Carlo Ancelotti Real won the Champions League, La Liga and Super Cup last season and will again be the team to beat this time around.

RB Leipzig

Semi-finalists: Leipzig came up against Rangers in last year's Europa League. SNS Group

Bundesliga side RB Leipzig don’t have to go as far back for their last visit to Glasgow and anyone who watched Rangers run to the Europa League final will remember Dominico Tedesco’s side.

After beating Rangers 1-0 in Germany they were defeated 3-1 at Ibrox a week later as Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men reached the final in Seville.

They finished fourth, 19 points behind champions Bayern Munich, in the German league last season but they have started this one with two draws and a defeat and Celtic will see them as beatable in the fight for second place.

They last played Celtic in the Europa League four years ago when Brendan Rodgers’ side won 2-1 at Celtic Park and lost 2-0 in Germany.

Shakhtar Donetsk

 Champions League: Celtic beat Shakhtar to reach the last-16 in 2007. SNS Group

Shakhtar Donetsk is another name that will be familiar to Celtic fans as the two sides have previous in the Champions League.

In 2004 an Alan Thompson goal gave the Hoops a 1-0 victory over the Ukranian side in Glasgow but they lost the away fixture 3-0 as they fell just short of the last-16 under Martin O’Neill.

In 2007 Gordon Strachan’s Celtic lost 2-0 thanks to two goals in the first ten minutes in Donetsk but they reached the last-16 thanks to a last minute goal to beat Shakhtar 2-1 in Glasgow.

Massimo Donati scored the winner in what is remembered as one of many famous Champions League nights in Parkhead.

Ongoing issues in Ukraine mean the away fixture will be played in Warsaw rather than Donetsk.

Again Celtic will see the Ukrainian champions as a beatable side in the quest to reach the next stage for the first time since 2013.

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