When will a Scottish side next win a Champions League game?

Published on 30 November 2023 at 20:00

A Scottish side last won a game in the Champions’ League group stage when Celtic won away from home against Anderlecht. This victory would see them through to the Europa League, as it ensured they finished third in the group. This victory came back in the 2017-18 season.

The club has been competitive in the last two campaigns but has been unable to get over the line.

They are not the only Scottish club to struggle at this level, as Rangers have not won a match at the same stage since the 2010–11 season. This win came against Bursaspor.

But why are Scottish sides struggling in the Champions League?

The key reason is the fact that there is a lack of competitive teams in the Scottish Premiership to challenge for the title. The current season has Celtic currently running away with it, with Rangers their closest title challengers, meaning that an Old Firm team will win the trophy again; the last time this did not happen was in 1984, when Sir Alex Ferguson led Aberdeen to the title.

The lack of challenge has meant that when they play higher-quality opponents, they are easily torn apart, or they will likely give up a good chance that will be clinically taken, like Lazio did last time out.

This will continue to happen due to the financial disparity in Scotland as these two clubs continue to get the most TV money from broadcasters and the winnings, they get for qualifying for European competitions.

If this trend is to continue, there is a need for more clever investment. When Celtic were winning games against the likes of Barcelona, they had talented players like Virgil Van Dijk and Victor Wanyama in their squad to add quality. This clever investment in younger talents is allowing them to use the club as a stepping stone to bigger things.

The club is trying to maintain this model, but they are not bringing in the same quality. The club needs to improve its scouting system to bring it back to this level.

Rangers have a different model, and it has not been working at the elite level or in Scotland since Steven Gerrard led them to the title, but this was in no small part due to the failure of Celtic that season.

There is much to ponder for the Scottish sides in Europe, and there needs to be an assessment of how to bring Scottish clubs back to the elite level, especially as the national team is bringing their prestige back to the international stage under Steve Clarke.


By Brendan Mc Gilligan


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