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BITTON PREPARES FOR ‘EMOTIONAL’ NIGHT

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NIR BITTON has revealed he has mixed feelings as he prepares to knock his Israeli compatriots out of the Champions League.

The midfielder, who came on as a second-half substitute in the thrilling 5-2 first leg win over Hapoel Be’er Sheva in midweek, hopes to play his part in Celtic’s progress in Europe’s top flight.

However, he said: “It’s not the perfect scenario for me. It’s nice to celebrate in front of your family and friends, but I will not go over the top in front of my own countrymen.

“The only thing I want is to go to the Champions league and who we beat to get there is not the main thing. Football is all about respect and it would not be right to show disrespect to this team and their fans.

“But Celtic is a side that deserves to be in the Champions league and tries to be there every year.

“Of course, we will celebrate and be happy – but I have lots of friends in the Hapoel team, players I know from the national team and others I just know from playing against them.

“It was emotional to play against friends at Parkhead and it will be the same in Israel.”

Bitton, though, warned: “It will be an amazing atmosphere in their stadium on Tuesday.

“It only holds 16,000 fans, but they will be with their team for the whole game. It’s their first chance to make it to the Champions league, so it means everything to their supporters.

“We just have to be smart – we have a three goal lead – and if we stick to our game-plan, hopefully, we can go through.

“I’ve never played in this stadium before because it’s newly built, but the fans will be the same as before.

“They are renowned as one of the best in Israel and especially now with their team on a high as champions.

“All the city will be massively behind them – but it doesn’t alter our thoughts on the game. We are there to win – it’s that simple.”


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