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Celtic suffer Euro blow

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Neil Lennon

Neil Lennon

Neil Lennon

Celtic will face a tough test in their first Champions League qualifier after Fenerbahce's title failure moved them into the unseeded pot.

Fenerbahce were pipped to the Turkish championship by unfancied Bursaspor, meaning the Istanbul club join Zenit St Petersburg, Ajax and Dinamo Kiev in the list of Celtic's possible opponents in the third qualifying round.

Steaua Bucharest will also join the seeds if they beat Unirea Urziceni to second place in the Romanian league, otherwise Portuguese side Sporting Braga will be among the five seeded teams in the non-champions part of the draw.

Celtic could face an even more difficult encounter to make the group stages if they progress from their initial tie, with Tottenham, Sevilla and Werder Bremen assured of a place among the play-off seeds.

Defeat at the first hurdle would put Celtic into the final qualifying round for the Europa League. Failure at the second hurdle, where the Parkhead club lost to Arsenal last season, would put them straight into the Europa League group stages again.

Celtic will discover their opponents for the third qualifying round on July 16 with the first leg taking place on July 27/28 and the return game the following week.

The Hoops face a European encounter today when they are due to fly to Germany to face St Pauli as part of the Hamburg club's centenary celebrations.

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Lukasz Zaluska will line up in goal and he is keen to retain his place ahead of fellow Pole Artur Boruc for next season.

Zaluska, who made 18 appearances following his move from Dundee United last summer, said: “Nobody wants to be second keeper and that's why I work so hard every day. I want to play as often as possible and Tuesday night is no different. But I think this game is not so much for us as a team of players but for the supporters.

“There is a good connection between the two clubs and I'm sure the fans will enjoy it.”


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