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Analysis: Celtic need to be Gladiators in the lion's den

Fan trouble has marred Celtic's visit to Rome, but can they win in Italy for the first time?

Stadio Olympico: Celtic face a tough task in Rome.
Stadio Olympico: Celtic face a tough task in Rome. SNS

The Stadio Olympico has played host to the biggest and most historic sporting events in the world.

And tonight it's Celtic's turn to create some history of their own by winning for the first time in Italy and putting one foot in the last 32 of the Europa League.

The build up to this match in Rome has been overshadowed by talk of fan behaviour and the possibility of trouble.

The reverse fixture at Celtic Park added fuel to the fire with the banners aimed at Lazio, whose fans marched through Glasgow city centre making offensive gestures.

Before trouble broke out last night - two Celtic fans were stabbed outside an Irish bar - the spirit and atmosphere on the streets of Rome had defied those fears.

https://stv.tv/news/west-central/1442204-two-celtic-fans-stabbed-in-rome-ahead-of-europa-league-match/ | default

Visiting supporters were enjoying themselves cheerily around the city's major landmarks, such as the Colosseum, Vatican and Spanish Steps.

The prior warning about wearing colours and laying low didn't seem to be a issue. The locals were loving the noise and colour produced by 10,000 Celtic fans and the Parkhead faithful were loving what this beautiful city had to offer.

The locals at the Spanish Steps were treated to a rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone - with some Roman locals joining in, while others clearly had no idea what was going on.

Unfortunately the day ended with headlines no-one wanted to read after two Celtic fans were stabbed. Thankfully, their injuries were not life-threatening.

https://stv.tv/sport/football/1441912-celtic-support-hit-back-at-mussolini-s-granddaughter/ | default

On the pitch, a huge night lies ahead for Neil Lennon's side, who are sitting pretty at the top of Group E after three impressive performances so far.

This was always going to be their stiffest test to date in this campaign. Lazio are in all aspects a Champions League outfit; size, stature, squad.

Add to that the fact Celtic have never won on Italian soil in competitive football and the task seems that little bit harder.

One only has to look at the explosive atmosphere at Celtic Park in their 2-1 win last month to see what playing an opponent like Lazio does to the support. By all accounts, Christopher Jullien's late header awoke 'The Glasgow Colosseum'.

https://stv.tv/sport/football/1441861-celtic-battle-back-to-conquer-lazio-in-europa-league-clash/ | default

But what it also showed was that high-profile matches are back on the menu and tonight's clash in the Olympico is without doubt the main course.

Despite Lennon saying the partial stadium closure due to behaviour from Lazio fans has taken a shine off the clash, it's going to be blockbuster.

Lazio do have their problems in the stands. A partial ban for their 'ultra group' from UEFA, countless fines from the governing body and the threat of racist chanting from the crowd.

Hopefully it's only matters on the field we are dealing with - because a Celtic win tonight would be huge.

A Colosseum of noise and colour lies in store for Celtic. They have come to the seven hills of Rome armed with an army of 10,000 supporters at their back - but they'll need gladiatorial spirit and bravery in the Stadio Olympico tonight to leave this ancient city as history makers.

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