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Last Updated: Monday, 13 August 2007, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
Alan Hansen's column
Alan Hansen
By Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

Celtic Park fans
Manager Gordon Strachan and his men will be hoping for more big European nights at Celtic Park

It is a very important week for the British teams trying to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League.

Rangers are first up on Tuesday. They had a good win over Zeta in the last round but now the pressure is on them to do the same against Red Star Belgrade.

The priority for Walter Smith's team is to win the league title back from Celtic and anything they get from the Champions League will be a bonus.

However, qualification for the group stages will be so important financially for the Ibrox side.

Celtic have a tough first-leg trip to Spartak Moscow on Wednesday but they will be buoyed after Saturday's win against Falkirk.

The Scottish Premier League champions enjoyed a great European campaign last season and to achieve the same, if not better, will be a difficult ask.

Because they have had a taste for it, the manager, players and fans will want more this season - it is very addictive.

Boss Gordon Strachan and his men will be hoping for more big European nights at Celtic Park, like the ones seen a few months back.

But like I mentioned before, the Scottish giants will also be looking at the financial benefits from a good Champions League run.

They have not spent this summer like the four English teams in the competition because, frankly, the television money from the SPL is not as rewarding as that in England's Premier League.

Success in the Champions League will give them the revenue to afford top-class players.

Over the border, I expect Arsenal to qualify comfortably for the group stages.

Fernando Torres
I expect Rafa Benitez's players to get the result they need in France to set them up for the return leg

They recorded a good result in Sunday's Premier League opener against Fulham and that will give them a lot of belief.

It will be interesting to see how they cope on the European front in the post-Thierry Henry era.

I am not so sure Arsenal have a chance of winning the competition but I would be equally surprised if they didn't make it past Sparta Prague, who they visit for the first leg on Wednesday.

Last year's finalists Liverpool got off to a great start in the Premier League against Aston Villa but they have got no respite, with Wednesday's first leg in Toulouse followed by a match against Chelsea on Sunday.

I expect Rafa Benitez's players to get the result they need in France to set them up for the return leg at Anfield.

There will be a fine balance over how much they should exert themselves in midweek - the cliche of "taking one game at a time" is difficult in practice, with such a huge game in the Premier League looming.

It would be fantastic for British football if all six teams manage to shine in the Champions League.

They have a lot to live up to after last year's efforts, when Celtic performed superbly and three English teams reached the semi-finals, which put Britain at the top of the European football tree.

If that can be repeated then it would be a great feat.

  • Alan Hansen was talking to Saj Chowdhury

  • SEE ALSO
    Arsenal's European frustration
    14 Aug 07 |  Arsenal
    When Red Star routed Rangers
    13 Aug 07 |  Scotland
    Liverpool's Toulouse task
    14 Aug 07 |  Europe


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