Celtic defender Andreas Hinkel believes former club Stuttgart offer the Hoops their easiest passage into the Champions League — but Arsenal also lie in wait.
The Germany international, 27, did more than most in getting the Parkhead side through to the play-off draw in their dramatic and historic 2-0 win over Dinamo Moscow in the Arena Khimki on Wednesday night.
Hinkel twice cleared off the line and assisted both Scott McDonald and Georgios Samaras in scoring the crucial goals which gave the Parkhead club a 2-1 aggregate victory and their first away win in Europe in six years.
Hinkel surveyed some potentially difficult ties before admitting that he hopes Celtic get paired with the Bundesliga club who have yet to start their season.
“It will be difficult but I think Stuttgart would be good opponents for us,” he said.
“I think they are one of the easier teams. I'm not saying anything against my former team but I think that is the case.”
Hinkel was reluctant to accept credit for his part in the Hoops' well-deserved success, claiming that he was only doing his defensive duties and joking that his assist for Samaras' last-minute winner was more of a punted clearance than a searching pass.
He said: “I helped Artur Boruc twice but that was my job — it was no big deal.
“And I was happy that I could help with an assist — or maybe two assists if you count my clearance as it was not really an assist.
“But it doesn't matter, I don't care.”
Hinkel admits the Celtic players felt the strain of keeping their Champions League aspirations alive going into the game.
Figures of around £12million have been reported as the carrot for reaching the group stages of the competition this season and after the 1-0 defeat at home in the first leg, few pundits or fans fancied Tony Mowbray's side coming through the other side.
Meanwhile, Celtic and Arsenal could be set to meet for a place in the lucrative Champions League group phase.
Celtic could also face Lyon, Sporting Lisbon or Panathinaikos.
Aside from a potential ‘Battle of Britain' encounter, there are some other dangerous opponents Arsene Wenger's men could come up against.
Atletico Madrid are a superb attacking unit with Argentina's Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan providing a regular supply of goals, although they are less secure at the back.
Like Arsenal, Atletico finished fourth in their domestic league, as did Fiorentina, another potential play-off rival.
Fiorentina are similarly blessed going forward, with former Chelsea forward Adrian Mutu among their ranks along with Italy striker Alberto Gilardino and highly-rated Montenegro international Stevan Jovetic. Arsenal could also face Anderlecht or Romanian side FC Timisoara
“We are conscious that there are tricky teams out there,” Wenger said. “But on the other side, nobody would like to play against Arsenal.”