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Letter From America: Bayern On Our Minds

RSC Anderlecht v Celtic FC - UEFA Champions League
Brendan Rodgers, ready to lead Celtic into battle against Bayern
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Andrew Doran continues his ‘Letter From America’ series with a preview of Wednesday night’s Bayern Munich-Celtic game.

After a long (or longer if you are a Scotland or USA national team fan) three weeks away, it’s finally time for Champions League action! The seven-time defending Scottish champions, Celtic FC head to the five-time defending Bundesliga champions, Bayern Munich. This week’s fixture pits the middle two teams from Group B. Is there any hope for Celtic? The optimist in me says we can pull anything off, especially with the confidence that we can get a result on the road (see example: Anderlecht).

RSC Anderlecht v Celtic FC - UEFA Champions League
Scenes of celebration from Celtic’s win against Anderlecht last month
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

The five-time Champions League winners, Bayern Munich, are in minor turmoil. They have sacked their manager, have had some players get knocked out for long stretches of time, and currently stand in second place, two points back of Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.

Regardless, it’s still Bayern Munich. They still have Tomas Muller, James Rodriguez, Robert Lewandowski, and Arjen Robben. Even with their struggles this year, they too beat Anderlecht and just thumped their way to win on Saturday, 5-0 over SC Freiburg.

Celtic on the other hand, are hoping that they get some of their key players back onto the pitch. Scott Brown, Stewart Armstrong, and Jozo Simunovic (editor’s note: this story was written before Jozo was ruled out of the game) are going to be needed in order for us to get a good result.

On Saturday, we squeaked by Dundee on a great strike by Olivier Ntcham in the 2nd half. The 59-game domestic unbeaten streak is still alive but there are still holes that need to be filled. The lack of a midfield was glaring, not only in the match on Saturday, but also against Hibernian two weeks ago. Hopefully with Brown coming back, we will be able to dictate play more from the middle, giving the ball down the wings to either Patrick Roberts or Kieran Tierney.

RSC Anderlecht v Celtic FC - UEFA Champions League
Scott Brown will be a key man as usual for Celtic on Wednesday night
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Wednesday night should be an interesting match. Celtic and Bayern are both coming into the game on a semi-high. Celtic have earned seven points from the last nine available and Bayern are coming off a draw and win in the last two fixtures in the Bundesliga, the latter coming with their new manager.

The only time that Celtic played Bayern in competitive play was during the 2003/2004 Champions League campaign where Celtic lost 2-1 in Munich and earned a 0-0 draw at Parkhead, but these teams are so different compared to the squads 13 years ago.

Fussball: CL 03/04, Celtic Glasgow - FC Bayern Muenchen
Celtic and Bayern played out a 0-0 draw at Celtic Park in 2003
Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Bongarts/Getty Images

I’m expecting Bayern to come out of the game hot, dominating possession and getting plenty of shots on goal. If the Celtic backline holds, with both Simunovic and Dedryck Boyata, and Celtic have a great counter-attack with Roberts and Leigh Griffiths, the Bhoys might be able to pull off a point, a point that would surely book our place in European football past Christmas. Nonetheless, I think Celtic will show better than they did against PSG in September but will still come up short, 2-1 Bayern.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter here, and his next column will feature an interview with a prominent Celtic supporter in America. Stay tuned...