Just how far from A-Z have Celtic come as they prepare to welcome Alkmaar?


Celtic host Dutch outfit AZ Alkmaar in Glasgow tonight as both teams try to negotiate the Europa League Play-off round for a place in the Group stages of this season's competition.


This fixture is Celtic's fourth home game in ten days and hypothetically represents a considerable step up in quality for a side who have rifled 12 goals past Dundee, Jablonec and Hearts in quick succession.


Alkmaar, who finished third in the Eredivisie last season, started their league campaign with a surprise loss away to RKC Waalwijk and are preparing for this match having sold three of last seasons top performers and unable to select at least two of their remaining key players, through injury and suspension.


All that will matter not to Ange Postecoglou who, as always, will be concentrating on his own team's preparation and performance, hoping to add to the recent run of three straight victories in front of a captivated home support.


An early barometer


In Postecoglou's first competitive fixtures in charge against Midtjylland, his philosophy and intent was clear, but his methods required time and extra personnel not afforded to him in July.


Whilst we have seen impressive glimpses of 'Angeball' in action, additional time and quality signings are needed for his methods to be fully integrated. But it's fair to say that Celtic fans have seen enough improvements in each game throughout August to believe that qualification for the Europa League is not beyond them this season.


Celtic's latest first-half performance against Hearts was even described by former Rangers captain, Barry Ferguson, as 'the best I've seen in a long, long time', which must've been tough for the Alloa manager, in fairness.


Alkmaar however, despite their selection headache, will be the biggest test for this new-look Celtic side, especially the four men in front of Joe Hart.


We all know from painful, previous experiences that sloppiness at the back on European nights is punished. Alkmaar's scouts will no doubt have reported back to Holland that this is the area of the pitch that Celtic have been slowest to improve on this season.


Keys to victory


Celtic needn't approach this fixture any differently to their last three home games, where they've come blistering out the gates and bamboozled their opposition - playing some of the most free-flowing attacking football seen in Scotland 'in a long, long time'.


Coupled with a raucous Celtic Park and a team yet to find their rhythm so far this season, both the Alkmaar side and the Celtic faithful will soon know just how far from A-Z The Hoops have come under Postecoglou.


Match info


Where: Celtic Park

When: Wednesday 7:45pm

Watch: Celtic TV PPV


How are you feeling ahead of the match? Let us know in the comments below.