ANGE POSTECOGLOU insists Celtic will not change their refreshing attacking style for the challenge of AZ Almaar in tomorrow night’s crucial first leg Europa League play-off final at a packed Parkhead.
The Hoops have blown away the opposition – Jablonec (twice), Dundee and Hearts – in the past four games with the team collecting SIXTEEN goals along the way, with Kyogo Furuhashi contributing five including a hat-trick in the 6-0 rout of the Dens Park outfit.
The Dutch side were runners-up in the Eredivisie last term, but have shed somethIng in the region of £40million worth of talent in the summer. Top scorer Myron Boadu moved to Monaco, winger Calvin Stengs signed for Nice and keeper Marco Bizot also switched to France with Stade Brest.
However, it is worth pointing out that a couple of incoming transfers – Greek hitman Evangelos Pavlidis, from Willem II, and Norway’s Aslak Fonn Witry – are full international players. They have also just spent £1.5million on a replacement netminder, Peter Vindahl, who is a Danish Under-23 regular.
The team also beat Real Sociedad, Torino and Panathinaikos in pre-season and looked good in these outings. Captain Owen Wijndal is also being linked with a switch and missed the weekend’s 1-0 loss to Waalwijk in their league opener.
MAN ON A MISSION…Ange Postecoglou is prepared for AZ Alkmaar. Image courtesy Celtic TV.
As ever, Postecoglou has been meticulously planning for the Dutch test and the Greek-Australian admitted: “They’ve all got different challenges. I know people will say it’s a step up, but I’ve never looked at football that way, as one thing football teaches you is that if you take anything for granted, it’ll slap you right in the face.
“Every game is important, every game is a challenge and for us what is paramount is that what we’ve done in the last four or five games is we are increasing and improving our football in the tempo that we want to play, particularly at home, so irrespective of the opponent, what we want to do is take that approach.”
Postecoglou clearly enjoyed watching his side overcome Jablonec last weekend and Hearts on Sunday a rocking Parkhead and he is hoping for some of the same this time around.
The Hoops gaffer, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “I think it will be a typical European night, there will be plenty of high-tempo quality football and we’ll play our part in that.
HAPPY HOOPS…Ange Postecoglou celebrates with his backroom staff after David Turnbull’s opener against Jablonec.
“We’ve just seen in the last couple of games, that we’ve got off to a great start in them, and that’s literally feeding off the energy – both from the players to our supporters and our fans to the players, the crowd will be a big part of it for sure.
“The key thing for me over the last four games has been the consistent improvement in our football.
“The players have been sticking to the task, obviously we want to win games and that’s the most important thing, but trying to stick to the principles of the way we want to play has been really pleasing.
“Particularly with the home games, knowing the crowds are in there, and we want to start the season and our relationship with the supporters in a positive way, I think it’s been good.”