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Can Celtic Be Vanquished?

Thursday 10th August 2017
Brendan Rodgers' Celtic earned Invincible status, unbeaten in 2015-16. Will they continue to roll over SPL opponents or are they set up for a fall?

With the new Scottish Premiership campaign already underway, the Hoops look set to replicate last season's feat. The Bhoys have given outstanding displays in their pre-season friendlies, not tasting defeat through the Champions League qualifying rounds.

Their 0-1 triumph over Rosenborg was testament Celtic remain strong. That they beat the Norwegians without top scorer and highly-rated youngster, Moussa Dembele, blows the mind.

Old Firm rival Rangers' third-place finish showed the side is still naive despite their return to the Scottish top flight. Gers will have to work extra hard to pose a threat to runner-up Aberdeen, never mind Celtic. Even with new boss Pedro Caixinha in charge.

The big landmark every Hoops fan is hoping to reach is, of course, ten in a row.
Sitting on six consecutive league titles and three wins on the trot in the derby, how likely is it? Rangers are still struggling, but that can't last forever. Aberdeen emerged during the Gers absence, but Celtic did a Juventus on their strongest challenger, swooping in for the Dons best player in 2016-17, Jonny Hayes.

It is hard to overlook the might Celtic has shown over the last few seasons. Still, the club took things at a fast pace with both their pitch actions and acquisitions when Rodgers was appointed manager. Haste does make waste.

Many are of the belief that, brimming with players still in their prime, including Dembele, Scott Sinclair, Leigh Griffiths and the newly energized Stuart Armstrong, the Bhoys can easily claim the four remaining titles needed to achieve the 10-in-a-row landmark Jock Stein so narrowly missed in the 1974-75 campaign. Nine-in-a-row sounds just off-key, doesn't it?

Ironically, unwavering success is their biggest threat. The Hoops dominance no longer translates to Europe as it did during Stein's legendary reign. The more success this squad enjoys, the more vultures from the Premier League will circle with each transfer window. Key Celtic players have already been linked to moves this summer.

The Champions League also poses a threat to Celtic. Domestic success does not always guarantee a good run in Europe but it does give continental clubs three looks at the Scottish champions to decide if they, too, wish to raid it for talent.
 

And with few challenges on offer, how long will Rodgers himself stay? At Swansea's Liberty Stadium, the Northern Irishman learned how to play the underdog. At Anfield, he learned he needed to be a bully. At Celtic Park, he has become one. If holding onto players remains his only uncertainty, will much time pass before he decides to give the big time another crack?

Gers new boss, Caixinha, won three trophies in two campaigns with Liga MX side Santos Laguna. Before that, he struggled with Portuguese sides Uniao Leiria and Nacional. After his Mexican sojourn, he spent two uneventful seasons with Al-Gharafa in the Qatar Stars League. His isn't a CV to suggest he can consistently undercut Rodgers in the market or on the pitch. Rangers are still a long way off from becoming a genuine contender.

Aberdeen are a strong team. Manager Derek McIness has proved that, in the right mood, his Dons can trump anyone. There is a reason they are presently the second-best team in Scotland. Yet, the reality is the harder he pushes, the more players like Jonny Hayes he will lose to Celtic's deeper pockets. If Aberdeen are not able to halt Celtic's momentum, it is doubtful any other SPL club could.

Except for Celtic themselves.
Adebayo Temitope

Temitope, an ardent soccer fan. I may be based in Lagos but I watch as much European football as I can. I've been writing about football for several years, before I joined IRIAW you may have seen my work on The Football Weeks. I'm also a keen music fan


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