CALLUM McGREGOR insists Celtic players have a “brilliant opportunity” to gain a positive result against Atletico Madrid in the Metrapolitano Stadium this evening.
Brendan Rodgers’ side are propping up Champions League Group E after three games which have seen two defeats to Feyenoord and Lazio and a draw against Diego Simeone’s team 13 days ago in Glasgow.
There have been mitigating circumstances in both losses to the Dutch and Italian outfits.
MADRID MISSION…Callum McGregor is looking for a positive result against Atletico. Image courtesy Celtic TV.
In Rotterdam, the Hoops were reduced to nine men by the 69th minute following the quickfire red cards for centre-back Gustaf Lagerbielke and midfielder Odin Holm. It was 1-0 at the stage with the loss of a free-kick goal in the second minute of first-half stoppage-time.
The visitors struggled with the numerical disadvantage and Feyenoord claimed a killer second goal in the 76th minute.
The hard luck story continued during the match against Lazio where Kyogo Furuhashi rifled in a seventh-minute strike that was nullified by the Italians before the interval following some alarmingly sloppy defending after a corner-kick had dropped into the box.
Luis Palma had what looked like a perfectly good goal in the 81st minute disallowed by VAR and seven minutes into added-on time, the Serie A outfit broke away to score the winner through Pedro.
The Hoops led twice with efforts from Kyogo and Palma against this evening’s opponents before the La Liga outfit gained a point with goals from Antoinne Griezmann and Alvaro Morata.
Now McGregor will lead his team-mates into the cauldron of a partisan stadium in the Spanish capital in the bid to return to Glasgow with something to show for their efforts.
THE WAY AHEAD…Callum McGregor drives on his Celtic team-mates.
The influential captain said: “I think for us in European football there has to be a mentality change, a shift that when we go out on to the pitch we believe and we don’t want to come off the pitch until we get a positive result.
“The performances have been getting better and better, but I think the biggest thing the players can take from that is trying to change that mentality – that there’s almost an expectation to succeed and try and get through the group.
“So, this is a brilliant opportunity for the players. They’re really excited to play in this stadium, so we want to make sure it’s a positive experience for ourselves.”
McGregor, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “The performance levels in the first three games in the group have been slowly getting better.
“So, it’s a mindset switch that we have to try and come here and perform the way that we want to, and can we back that up with a big result, as well.
“I can’t wait. It’s a beautiful stadium, so, as a football player, that’s where you want to be.
“You want to be playing in the big stadiums, go and affect the game and show your personality.
“I’m sure we’ll do that as a group.”
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