CELTIC will become history Bhoys this evening when they play their first-ever tie in the Europa Conference League against Bodo/Glimt at Parkhead.
Despite picking up nine points in their Europa League group, beating the Hungarians of Ferencvaros home and away and claiming a 3-2 victory over Real Betis, the Hoops dropped into the newly-formed tournament.
Ange Postecoglou is under no illusions about what to expect from dangerous Norwegian opponents who thrashed Jose Mourinho’s Roma 6-1 earlier in the competition.
Looking forward to the encounter, the Greek-Australian said: “It’s always an interesting one and there are positives and negatives.
“I think the fact that they’ve got the same manager, they play the same way – yes, they’ve lost four players, I think, from last year’ line-up – but they’ve replaced them almost like-for-like in terms of the style.
EURO CHALLENGE…Ange Postecoglou is ready for the visit of “impressive” opponents. Image courtesy Celtic TV.
“Sometimes in pre-season it can be a bit disjointed, but I don’t think that’s going to happen from what we’ve seen of them in their pre-season games and having scouted them, they still look a very good team and it will be a good challenge for us.’
“Yes, we are match fit and in good condition, so I’m hoping that is an advantage, particularly later on in the game, but, at the same time, you’ve just got to prepare as if they’re going to be a good challenge for us and we’re preparing for them to play as they did so well in Europe earlier in the season.”
The Norwegians finished second in their section behind Mourinho’s Serie A outfit, winning all three of their home games and drawing their three away fixtures, including a 2-2 stalemate in Rome.
Postecoglou, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “I’ve been very impressed – and not just with their results.
“From my perspective, I like to look at football through a little bit of a different prism and see how teams play more than anything else, and their football’s fantastic, not just in Europe. but domestically, as well.
“They’ve got a really exciting group of young players who have bought into this style of football and it’s great to see because often, in all leagues around the world, even here in Scotland, sometimes we talk about teams with lower budgets and playing a certain way, but you don’t have to.
“If you get the right manager in and you get them to believe in something and work in a certain way, then you can play that kind of football, and coming from Australia it’s something I believe in strongly.
ON THE BALL…Josip Juranovic is poised to return against Bodo/Glimt.
“So I’ve been impressed with their results, but more impressed with the manner in which they play their football.
“Getting an away win in Europe is not easy, even for the best teams. It’s part of the challenge of Europe.
“You know that going away from home is difficult because you know that not only are you facing opposition and opposition fans, different conditions and different pitch – everything’s a little bit of a challenge, so it’s not easy.
“The fact that Bodo didn’t lose away from home is probably more significant because it shows that they’ve got a really strong mentality and strong character within their team.
“So, from our perspective, we’re preparing to play a very good side and one that’s got a lot of confidence from their European exploits so far.”
Croatia international right-back Josip Juranovic, who has missed the wins over Motherwell, Aberdeen and Raith Rovers through illness, has been training this week and will be fit for selection for the visit of the Norwegians.
Winger Mikey Johnston, though, is out after sustaining an ankle injury in the 4-0 Sottish Cup win over the Stark’s Park club on Sunday.
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