A new season in the Scottish top flight started this weekend in the recently branded Scottish Premiership. This is the new name for the top-tier in the “SPFL” (Scottish Professional Football League).
Celtic are the reigning champions and are rather unsurprisingly favourites to retain their title. Last year they had a successful and rewarding season despite the absence of rivals Rangers who are currently in Scottish League One. The team from Glasgow won the double and impressed many with their performances in the Champions League, reaching the last 16 and even defeating the mighty Barcelona in the group stages.
The mandate for this season will be similar – win the double, reach the knockout stages of the Champions League but to add the League Cup. This, however, will be slightly more challenging for Celtic as they have lost two star players – Victor Wanyama to Southampton and Gary Hooper to Norwich. Both were impressive, especially in Europe, where Wanyama scored in the win against Barca and Hooper finished the top English goal scorer. Their departures will undoubtedly hamper Neil Lennon’s chances to compete with Europe’s best but if he spends the money correctly then Celtic should be able to replicate their performances of last year.
Celtic have the luxury of being far superior than the teams below, allowing them to focus on their European campaign. Players such as Adam Matthews and Kris Commons are key with the former likely to follow Wanyama and Hooper into the English Premier League next summer. Some teams have the ability to beat Celtic on the odd occasion but not one team has the overall quality needed to sustain a challenge for the title over an entire season. This means Celtic will be celebrating come May but their season is ultimately dependant on their performances in Europe’s premier competition.