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DEILA DEMANDS ‘FORTRESS PARADISE’

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RONNY DEILA has demanded his Celtic players turn Parkhead back into a European fortress.

The Hoops host Qarabag in the first leg of their Champions League third-qualifying-round clash in Glasgow tonight.

And the Norwegian has urged his side to recreate the intimidating reputation of the Martin O’Neill era ahead of another tilt at the group stage.

Ajax and Barcelona were the only teams to win in Glasgow’s east end between 2001 and 2008. However, there have been dismal home defeats against Maribor, Red Bull Salzburg, AC Milan and Juventus in recent years.

But Deilia insisted: “It’s at Celtic Park, our castle. We need to be kings of that castle. That is what we are aiming for, to get Celtic Park to be the hardest place to come to.

“This game is important in terms of what we can show as a team and to make the atmosphere better.

“It’s about quality, about when we get good enough. I remember at the start of last season when the teams didn’t fear coming to Celtic Park, that it was nothing.

“We changed that last season and now we have to bring that out in Europe.

“We did play at Murrayfield last year and it is better at home — but I won’t use that as an excuse.”

Deila predicts a close, open game against a Qarabag team confident of creating another upset following strong performances against Red Bull Salzburg, Dnipro and Inter Milan last season.

With a six-hour flight for the second leg, the four-in-a-row champions want a strong lead to take to Baku for the return encounter.

Urging Celtic supporters of the need for patience against a side rebuilt by coach Gurban Gurbanov, Deila added: ‘The crowd inside Celtic Park are quite intelligent.

“We will play a lot of the same way we normally do, but it’s about high pressure, intensity, it’s about getting forward quickly when we get the chance.
“It is also sometimes, when you meet good opponents, about defending, as well.

“We want to be in their half all the time — but when you play good teams, you know you’ll have to defend. The fans can see that. It won’t be a problem.
“We must stick together as a team defensively. When we do that, we don’t concede goals.

“When we don’t — as against the Czech team Dukla Prague in Paisley in pre-season and a little bit against Inter Milan at home, when we were too wide, too open — that’s what causes us the biggest problems.

“But we have experienced this before and we can take that into the game.”

 
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