Celtic will play Irish side Shamrock Rovers in a pre-season friendly on 7th July at the Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. While Rovers may not be a big team, the Irish outfit will prove to be a genuine test for Brendan Rodgers’ men.
The match will act as a preparation for Celtic’s foray into Europe as they gear up for the Champions League qualifiers. In the first round of the qualification campaign, the Hoops are likely to face a team of Rovers’ standard. As a result, the upcoming friendly will be vital for Celtic.
They faced a similar scenario last summer as Rodgers brought his team to the south side of Dublin for a warm-up match, before facing Linfield in a Champions League qualifier. That game ended 9-0 to Celtic.
With that said, one might wonder as to how the match against Rovers could possibly be beneficial for the Scottish giants.
Well for a start, Rovers have a greater depth than they did last year. And since the Irish league is now a summer tournament, the club won’t have to rest their key players.
Thus, Rovers must not be taken lightly this time. They may lack technical ability but they will be sharp and hungry for redemption.
Furthermore, Steven Bradley, the club’s manager is in a tenuous position right now. Another 9-0 thrashing, or something of similar ilk, would not be shrugged off in the same manner as last year.
Rovers are a club steeped in history and success. At present, however, they sit 23 points behind the top side, Cork City. The quality of their performances have also been far from ideal and Bradley will have a point to prove against a team like Celtic. With patience among the fans running thin, he cannot afford to mess this up.
Having suffered 8 league defeats in 22 games, Rovers must work hard to ensure they stand strong against Celtic. Thus, Rodgers and his team will face a stronger and rejuvenated side with a newfound desire for success – something they lacked a year ago.