Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football Scottish Celtic

Who are Astana, Celtic's Champions League opponents?

By Gareth Hanna

Celtic will face a lengthy trip for the second leg of their Champions League play-off tie.

They have been drawn to face reigning Khazakhstan champions Astana for the second year in a row. But just what do we know about the eastern European side?

1. They've won the Premier League three years in a row

Celtic are going for their seventh successive domestic title this season - their opponents aren't far behind. They have totally dominated the Khazakhstan Premier League since they claimed their maiden title in 2014. In fact, they've won the trophy every season since and lead the way during the current campaign.

2. They play in a summer season

Astana are currently 21 matches into their league season and lead the way, having won 16, drawn three and lost two of their Premier League matches so far. That's enough to have them four points clear at the top of the table. Kairat are their closest rivals, as they were last season, when just two points separated them.

3. Astana are no strangers to the Champions League - or to Celtic

In fact, they played in the Group Stages back in 2015. They did finish bottom of Group C, which also contained Atletico Madrid, Benfica and Galatasaray but they managed to pick up four points, drawing with all of their opponents - Galatasaray twice. Since then it's been qualifying frustration - thanks to Celtic last season when the Glasgow side won 3-2 on aggregate in the Third Qualifying round.

4. It's been a swift rise to stardom

Astana were founded just eight years ago in 2009 thanks to a merger of  Almaty Megasport and Alma-Ata. Neither of those teams existed before the turn of the century and neither had managed a league title so even the club's roots aren't that well established.

5. Astana is a long way from Glasgow

Astana, the Khazakhstan capital, is 3,924 miles away from Glasgow. Any fans thinking of a road trip - that would take you 72 hours of flat-out driving and to walk it would take 1,096 hours. Good luck.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph