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ARMSTRONG ON CELTIC’S EURO MISSION

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STUART ARMSTRONG insists he is ignoring Stjarnen’s boasts of pulling off a Euro upset because Celtic belong in the Champions League.

The midfielder dismisses the Iceland champions’ claims that they can repeat last year’s victory over Motherwell and that all the pressure is on the Parkhead men.

Armstrong said: “I would say they will be very tricky. A lot of people will be feeling we should get through, but it’s a tough competition and all of the teams that are in it will be feeling they are there on merit.

“They have their opinion about the game and they are entitled to it. That is irrelevant to us. We’re focused on ourselves and our preparation. We won’t be paying too much attention to anything. It is water off a duck’s back.

“We’d like to make a good start and a nice win or putting ourselves into a nice position would be advantageous.”

Armstrong is determined Celtic don’t slip up as they did a year ago because the taste of top level European football a year ago, against Inter Milan, has made him hungry for more.

Especially as it convinced him that his team were more than good enough to perform at that level.

Armstrong added: “That first leg was probably the most enjoyable game I have ever played in. Everything about it, the atmosphere, the noise, scoring was nice, too. It was also nice to get something out of the game.

“When John Guidetti made it 3-3 in injury time at Celtic Park, that made it most enjoyable and we felt we could get something at the San Siro.

“If there is more of these encounters to follow, I can’t wait. It’s great to play in those games, but it’s even better when you give a good account of yourselves when playing against a team such as Inter.

“To feel hard done by when you get knocked out, well that was a real vote of confidence.

“There were a few young boys in the team at the San Siro who had maybe not experienced that level of competition before.

“It was only my second time of playing at that level and it was encouraging to see the boys handling it so well.”

Celtic will need to overcome three opponents to make the group phase and are looking to improve on last year when both Legia Warsaw and Maribor beat them.

Armstrong said: “They are very important games, there’s no doubt about that. It’s more excitement rather than pressure for us.

“You grow up watching Champions League games and those are the games you want to play in.

“We had a little taster of European football last season and personally I want to taste more.

“I think playing at that level will improve any player. It’s a great opportunity to experience different countries, stadiums and atmospheres.

“That’s the ultimate goal, but it’s a tough ask for any club to reach that stage.”

 
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