Champions League dream "feels more real" now, says Craig


By Colette Carr

Knowing their round one opponents makes the upcoming Euro trip all the more real, says defender Chloe Craig, who reacted to news of the Hoops’ Champions League debut.

Facing Primiera Division team Levante in semi-final 1, before taking on either tournament hosts Rosenborg or Minsk in the second fixture, the Celts can now envision the scale of the task at hand, something Craig shared her excitement about.

“It’s a little bit more real now,” the defender confessed, “we know everything is in place and who we have so we can start focussing on those games and we need to do.”

The Celts face a stern first test in the Spaniards, but there’s no point in playing at the highest level if you aren’t going to test yourself according to Craig, who is relishing the challenge.

“You have to play the best to be the best and you have to play the best teams out there to be better as a team, so I think it’s a good match. We know we’re capable of going out and challenging and we’re in this position for a reason, so we’re looking forward to it,” she said.

Celtic clinched Champions League football on the last day of the season amid eleventh hour COVID chaos, running out emphatic 8-0 victors over Motherwell despite the shock circumstances ahead of kick-off. But with the dust having now settled, the 27-year-old says it’s only now that the size of last season’s achievement is sinking in, saying: “Now we’re back into preseason and have seen everyone, we can look back now on what we’ve done. 

"I think it's more believable now than it was on the last day of the season - everything was so up in the air, but now we’re back in and getting ready for it, you realise, 'we actually did this, we’ve made history.'

“It’s a dream come true, and now we’re back, it’s definitely more real."

On top of adding the Champions League to the diary, the new season will also see the resumption of the domestic Cups and a longer SWPL1 campaign, something else Craig is raring to get her teeth into.

“It’s exciting to know that we’re going back into a “normal” season and it won’t be start-stop, so we’re looking forward to that schedule. I think if we’d been able to challenge for cups last season we would be standing here with silverware, so it’s good we have something else to compete for,” she added.

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