Ronny Deila hoping victory in group’s ‘toughest game’ will lift Celts confidence

Boss Ronny Deila is looking to engineer Celtic’s first Europa League win in what he admits is Group A’s most difficult fixture: Away to Fenerbahce tonight.

The Hoops have no chance of qualifying for the knockout stages after taking only two points from the first five fixtures, while the home side, who lost their opening match at home to already-qualified Molde, need only one point to stay above Ajax to guarantee joining the Norwegian side in the last 32.

Norwegian Deila, speaking at the Sukru Saracoglu stadium before his side trained, was asked if the trip to Istanbul was the toughest test in the section.

He said: “I think so, I think it is the toughest game. We are playing a very good team and it is a tough place to come to win, but we have seen that other teams have come away from here with points, so everything is possible.

“It’s always important to win and, if we can get a victory, it’ll be a big achievement.

“It will give us a lot of confidence to go into the domestic league, as well.

“It is important that when you are away in Europe you defend well first of all and when we get the ball we have to make some problems for them.

“We want to be very clear in how we defend and how we attack.”

At the same time as looking for a morale-boosting win, Deila might be tempted to give more game time to fringe players, such as midfielder Scott Allan, but he insists he will “not experiment a lot” with his side.

The former Stromsgodset boss said: “We will play the team we think is the best. We want to use this game to challenge ourselves against European opponents and we’ll do everything we can to win the game.”

Fenerbahce coach Vitor Pereira claimed earlier in the day that Celtic had been unlucky in the campaign, a view with which Deila largely concurred.

“A lot of the games have been very even, but we haven’t been good in the small details and in both boxes,” he said. “That has cost us a lot.

“No team has out-played us and we’ve created chances, but we’ve given away goals too easy.

“We will learn from our experiences. We will do a lot of the same things (next season), but we want to do the small details better than we have done in this campaign.”

Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor is looking to add to his four European goals to date, the latest coming against Ajax in the 2-1 defeat at Parkhead last month.

The 22-year-old also believes a win would give the Hoops a turbo-charge as they continue on their quest for a domestic treble.

He said: “I enjoy the European games and I seem to score in quite a few of them.

“Hopefully, I can do that tomorrow night and keep doing well for the team.

“It [a victory] could kick-start the season again. A big result here tomorrow night could give the boys a lot of confidence to take into the second part of the season and, especially, the next campaign.

“Unlucky could be a good word to use for this campaign.

“We have played a lot of good stuff at times and, as the gaffer says, it is the small details that cost you in European games.

“In defensive set-pieces and attacking set-pieces we have to be switched on, that is something that we will look to take into the next campaign.”

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox