Champions League: Celtic in 'glamorous' Group B

Celtic Park is likely to be packed full of noisy fans for the visit of Bayern Munich, PSG and Anderlecht
Celtic Park is likely to be packed full of noisy fans for the visit of Bayern Munich, PSG and Anderlecht

For Celtic, the Champions League draw could scarcely have worked out any better had their chief executive Peter Lawwell stage-managed the entire thing himself, grinning knowingly all the while.

After all, it provides the right amount of glamour in Bayern Munich and Paris St-Germain, the right kind of third seed in Anderlecht - challenging but beatable - no long trips to eastern Europe, no rematches with overly familiar foes, a shot at European football post-Christmas, if they're good enough.

It's been 14 years since Celtic played Bayern in the Champions League, 14 years since they played Anderlecht and 22 years since they played PSG. The last time the French side visited Celtic Park in European competition, Patrice Loko did the damage in a 3-0 win.

Now, they have Neymar, the planet's most expensive footballer, the most curious thing on two legs, the player who everybody will be watching.

Champions League Group B

For PSG, only the Champions League title itself will be good enough, given the vulgar sums of money they've doled out on the great Brazilian.

The same can be said of Bayern. Of the eight groups, there are probably only two that contain a pair of clubs who would see anything other than ultimate victory as failure - Group D with Juventus and an admittedly ailing Barcelona, and Group B with the twin behemoths, Bayern and PSG.

Star-studded Bayern

Celtic will have to find a way past Bayern's formidable goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer
Celtic will have to find a way past Bayern's formidable goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer

The Germans last won it in 2013. They went through the Pep Guardiola years without winning it. That was a sore chapter in their great story.

They lost a semi-final, to Real Madrid, in 2014; lost another semi-final, to Barcelona, in 2015; lost yet another semi, against Atletico, in 2016 before losing to Real in the quarter-final last year.

Their hunger is as obvious as their class. Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Javi Martinez, David Alaba, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Arturo Vidal, Thomas Muller, Kingsley Coman. They've also got James Rodriguez on loan from Real Madrid.

PSG might have a goalscoring, goal-creating star in Neymar, but Bayern have a machine all of their own in Robert Lewandowski. The Pole has scored 39 Champions League goals in his past five seasons. In the past two seasons only Ronaldo has scored more goals in this competition.

Celtic's Champions League Group B matches
Tuesday, 12 September: Celtic v Paris St-GermainWednesday, 27 September: Anderlecht v Celtic
Wednesday, 18 October: Bayern Munich v CelticTuesday, 31 October: Celtic v Bayern Munich
Wednesday, 22 November: Paris St-Germain v CelticTuesday, 5 December: Celtic v Anderlecht

Last weekend, Bayern began the defence of their Bundesliga title - they've won five in a row - against Bayer Leverkusen. They won 3-1 in front of 75,000 at the Allianz Arena in Munich. It's one of European football's great arenas housing one of the Champions League's greatest threats.

Celtic's Paris match

With all the hubbub over the cosmic transfer fee that took Neymar to Paris from Barcelona, it could easily be forgotten that, for all their riches, PSG are not France's champion team. They finished eight points adrift of Monaco last season.

They're also the side that made a dramatic exit from the Champions League in March. With a 4-0 advantage in the first leg of their last-16 tie against Barcelona, they proceeded, infamously, to fold in the second leg to the tune of 6-1.

Neymar's arrival is not merely intended to make the domestic title a formality, it's the most jaw-dropping assault on the Champions League we have ever seen.

PSG are not one a one-man team, though the coverage, inevitably, will be all about one man.

They have stellar names in defence in Neymar's countrymen, Thiago Silva, and the new signing, Dani Alves. In midfield they have Angel di Maria - they paid what now seems like a modest £44m for him - and Julian Draxler, the fine German.

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What else could you buy for Neymar's £200m?

Up front, along with Neymar, they have Edinson Cavani, third top-scorer in the Champions League season.

It seems that Bayern are interested in signing Draxler, though. This is partly because PSG are not done with adding players to their squad and maybe Draxler is wondering where he's going to fit in when all of this stops.

Stories persist that they might be back in the market for Monaco's precocious youngster, Kylian Mbappe. The fee mentioned is £138m.

Celtic can look at this in amazement - while privately wondering how sweet it would be if they managed to turn over these "Galacticos" in Glasgow.

A tall order, for sure, but it's one that Brendan Rodgers' team will surely relish. It's a shot to nothing against Bayern and PSG.

Nobody will expect them to take any points from those games. Nobody expected them to take any points from Manchester City last season, but they got two draws. And Celtic, if all are fit and well, are probably a better side now than they were then.

Anderlecht step up from Europa League

European football after Christmas is the objective. Qualification for the Europa League is the most realistic target. That means getting the better of Anderlecht, which will take a lot of doing.

You look at the Champions League group-stage story over the past two seasons and the Belgians have played no part in it. They haven't made the elite since 2014-15. What they've done in the Europa League has been seriously impressive, however.

Anderlecht salute their fans at Old Trafford after losing their Europa League quarter-final tie against Manchester United 3-2 on aggregate
April 2017: Anderlecht salute their fans at Old Trafford after losing their Europa League quarter-final tie against Manchester United 3-2 on aggregate

Last season they came through their group, beat Zenit in the last 32, beat APOEL - now a Champions League team - in the last 16 and only lost their quarter-final against Manchester United 2-1 after extra-time.

The season before they beat Spurs and Monaco in the group stage, beat Olympiacos in the last 32 before getting knocked out by Shakhtar in the last 16.

One of their stars of recent seasons was a Ghanaian striker, Frank Acheampong, who has now left to play in China. That's a plus for Celtic, but Anderlecht have a team that will make these games against Rodgers' side very close calls. They've achieved a lot more - and beaten a better class of opponent - in Europe in recent times than Celtic.

This is a brilliant draw, loaded with glitz and star quality and danger, but optimism, too. And noise. Lots and lots of noise.