Scouting report: Copenhagen offer Celtic hope for Europa League progress

By Liam McLeodBBC Scotland commentator
Copenhagen were beaten by Esbjerg on Friday in their first game after a two-month hiatus
Europa League last 32 first leg: Copenhagen v Celtic
Venue: Parken Stadium, Copenhagen Date: Thursday, 20 February Kick-off: 17:55 GMT
Coverage: Listen BBC Radio Scotland; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app

Both Scottish clubs can be quite content with the draws handed to them in the last 32 of the Europa League.

For Celtic, potentially sticky match-ups with the likes of Bayer Leverkusen, Olympiakos and Shakhtar Donetsk were swerved. Instead, Copenhagen came out of the hat in what appears an extremely winnable tie.

There is no better way to illustrate this than the fact Stale Solbakken's side trail Midtjylland at the top of the Danish Superliga. That is the same Midtjylland who were swept aside with consummate ease by Rangers in the qualifiers for this competition last summer.

Copenhagen squeezed through their group in second place - behind winners Malmo - scoring just five goals in the process. They also returned from their two-month hiatus with a defeat at Esbjerg.

Furthermore, Copenhagen have agreed to sell top scorer Pieros Sotiriou to Astana for around £4m, with the Cypriot striker having netted 13 times this season.

Celtic's European form has been outstanding and, but for an effective second-string losing at Cluj on the final match-day in a group Lennon's team topped, they would have extended a club-record unbeaten away European run to seven.

That said, they have lost all three of the last-32 away games they have played since the Europa League's inception as they prepare to not only come up against a team full of internationals, but also the video assistant referee system for the first time.

Who are the ones to watch?

Mohammed Daramy
Mohammed Daramy has caught the eye of some major clubs

Mohammed Daramy: The reigning Danish champions will be without some key players for both legs of this tie, including former Ajax winger Viktor Fischer, who scored against Celtic in a Europa League group game in 2015. However, Daramy is a highly-rated wide man himself. The 18-year-old has allegedly been on Liverpool, Manchester United and even Celtic's radar, but recently signed a new contract in the Danish capital and is their youngest-ever goalscorer.

Victor Nelsson: The 21-year-old centre-back was signed from Queen of the South's former European foes Nordsjaelland last summer. He is an almost ever-present this season and was recently promoted to the senior Denmark squad.

Jens Stage: The recent signing from Aarhus has been a regular since his controversial arrival from his hometown team. It was controversial because it resulted in him receiving threatening messages from Aarhus fans on social media. It took an even more sinister twist when his flat was set on fire not long after the £2.2m transfer. The versatile 23-year-old midfielder scored an important goal against Dynamo Kiev in the group stage.

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