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Ronnie Deila: Celtic will need all their Champions League experience

By Gavin McCafferty

Celtic manager Ronny Deila hopes his team use their Champions League experience to their advantage when they host Qarabag tonight.

But the Norwegian has warned his players they are facing a settled side who have some of the characteristics he has pushed to instil in his team.

Qarabag made their debut in the competition last season but went out in the third qualifying round to Salzburg.

Like Celtic, they had a decent experience in the Europa League group stages and went out only after a poor decision to disallow an injury-time winner against Inter Milan.

Celtic have a far more impressive history in the competition than the side coached by Gurban Gurbanov, who has been in charge at the Azerbaijani champions for seven years, but Deila knows his players will have to earn respect in the first leg of the third qualifying round at Parkhead.

Deila, whose side fell at this stage to Legia Warsaw last year, before losing to Maribor after a reprieve, said: "Nobody is scared before they come, you have to make them scared through good play in the game.

"They haven't been there before so that's an advantage for us. We have to play our best performance and then we know we can hurt the other team.

"They have consistency in what they do. They have had the same coach for several years. We know we will face a very good opponent.

"They do a lot of things that we want to do. They are very offensive, they have good relations in the team.

"That's something we work on all the time to get people to look at each other and find angles on the pitch. And they are good at switching the play. Some things are similar but other things are different.

"We just have to do the things we want to do better than them."

Deila has warned that Celtic will need to reach the levels they achieved against Inter, who they held 3-3 at home in the Europa League last season, to see off Qarabag.

Midfielder Stuart Armstrong scored in that game, on his home debut, and is keen to emulate the overall performance.

"It's good to have a bit of a build-up and have in your mind how we need to prepare, what kind of team we are facing and what big performances are expected.

"So it's good to mentally prepare a few days before," the former Dundee United midfielder said.

"The game was a lot faster and there was a lot of pressure, but it was more excitement I felt and I'm sure it will be the same tomorrow.

"It's always good to play in Europe as you learn new things and being at a club like Celtic you always learn new things, so through a combination of both I will continue to develop."

Meanwhile, Deila refused to rule out letting 19-year-old midfielder Liam Henderson go out on loan again. Henderson spent several months at Rosenborg this year and has been linked with a temporary move to Dundee United.

"We will see what kind of options we have," Deila said.

"Things change very quickly in football. We just have to be good at planning and be aware of everything.

"First of all I want him to play for Celtic. This is not about Liam, this is about the whole squad. We will see what is best for certain individuals and also the team."


Champions League: Celtic Park (7.45pm)


FK Qarabag

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