ANGE POSTECOGLOU admits he will only enjoy his first visit to Real Madrid’s iconic Bernabeu Stadium on November 2 if Celtic win.

The Hoops boss realises the Parkhead club will know their fate in Europe after they have played their sixth and final Champions League Group F game in the Spanish capital against the trophy holders.

Postecoglou accepts his team are facing Europe’s finest after Carlo Ancelotti’s club beat Liverpool 1-0 in Paris in May to lift the prestigious silverware for the 14th time.

THE THINKER…Ange Postecoglou reflects after the 3-3 pre-season draw with Vienna Rapid in the Austrian capital.

And the Greek-Australian gaffer, who celebrated his 57th birthday yesterday, also acknowledges Celtic will have to muzzle the world’s best player in Karim Benzema in Glasgow in nine days’ time as well as in Madrid if they are to have any hope of making progress in the elite competition.

Special K is the Special One as far as Postecoglou is concerned and would be worthy winner of the Ballon D’Or ahead of Robert Lewandowski, who has just joined Real’s bitter rivals Barcelona from Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Anfield’s Mo Salah.

Benzema was in spectacular form as the Spaniards overcame PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City on their way to the grande finale and the victory over Jurgen Klopp’s team.

Postecoglou said: “Benzema would deserve to win the Ballon D’Or. He was outstanding for Real Madrid last year.

“But when you look at them as a group, what they did to win the Champions League was always to find a way to win their games. They have such a history and tradition of being successful in this competition that they can never be underestimated.

“I’m well aware of their pedigree. I haven’t been to the Bernabeu. It will be great if we have a positive performance, but not if we don’t.

PHEW…Ange Postecoglou puffs his cheeks after Celtic’s 1-1 draw with Dundee United the last time they played at Tannadice on May11 – the evening they clinched his first title with the Hoops.

“I’ve been lucky – I’ve been to the Maracana in Brazil, Wembley, all of these places. But the ones I remember fondly are the ones where my team did well.

“That’s key to it. For our fans, in particular, it will be an unbelievable experience for them going to Bernabeu.”

Postecoglou, though, will be concentrating on the domestic front when the Premiership action gets underway against Dundee United at Tannadice in the High Noon encounter today.

A win will put the champions back at the pinnacle and restore their two-point advantage over Giovanni van Bronckhosrt’s outfit who had a 4-0 win over Ross County at Ibrox yesterday.

The Tayside club were walloped 7-0 by AZ Alkmaar in their Europa League mauling in the Netherlands after winning 1-0 in the first leg.

They have lost their two subsequent league matches against Hearts (4-1) and St Mirren (3-0) and boss Jack Ross has come in for some fierce criticism.

THAT’S MY BHOY…Ange Postecoglou congratulates skipper Callum McGregor after Celtic’s crowning glory on Tayside last season.

Postecoglou, speaking to the Sunday Mail, added: “I don’t think Jack needs sympathy – I don’t if I’m going through a tough time.

“It’s more about my respect for every manager and the challenges they face. A few weeks ago when they beat AZ Alkmaar the mood was a lot different for Jack and his team.

“It can change back just as quickly – and that’s the danger for us. If they have a strong performance against us, everything changes.

“So, we need to make sure we’re ready for that. It’s important we prepare for a team who are going to be highly motivated to do well against us.”

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report and best action images from Dundee United v Celtic this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.


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