Celtic boss Ronny Deila: I'm not worried about Qarabag pitch
Ronny Deila declared himself unconcerned about the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium pitch ahead of the Champions League qualifier against Qarabag tonight.
The poor state of the scorched surface in sun-baked Baku has dominated the build-up to the second leg of the third qualification round, where the Hoops lead 1-0 against the Azerbaijan champions from the first game at Parkhead.
However, after Deila had a quick look at the pitch before the pre-match press conference at the ground, he said: “It is not a perfect pitch of course.
“But it is a pitch and we are used to playing in those types of pitches in Scotland in the winter so we have to make the best of the situation.
“Again, this is how it is in football, sometimes you have different conditions and you have to handle that.
“Since coming to Celtic I have been very impressed with the players and how they handle different situations and it will be no trouble tomorrow either.
“Everything has been perfect, the plane journey was shorter than normal, the hotel is fantastic and it will be good that the sun will be away.
“I think we have done everything we can to put in a good performance tomorrow.”
The Norwegian is confident that midfielder Nir Bitton and striker Leigh Griffiths would shrug off respective ankle and calf problems in time for the match.
However, Deila returned with a weariness to the issue of Virgil van Dijk, linked to Southampton who have reportedly bid £7million for the Dutch defender.
The former Stromsgodset boss said: “It is the same things I say all the time.
“We don’t need to sell him and we want to have him here and it is a day before a very important game.
“Virgil is very focused, happy and really wants to play Champions League with Celtic.
“Seven million? You think we would say yes to that? They haven’t bid. He is a top international player and everyone knows that.
“We want to reach the Champions League. We want to make this big club be successful and we need the best players and he is one of them.”
Skipper Scott Brown knows how important qualification for the Champions League is for Celtic, who passed up on two chances to get into the competition last season.
“The Champions League is huge for this club, it’s where we belong,” he said
“We are a big club and need to make sure we produce results now and it would be a big step for us if we could win this game.
“It would be great if we could score early, that would be lovely but we defend well as a team and we can keep a clean sheet and score. You have to trust in your defence, midfield and strike force and let everyone do their job.
“Overall, we are as good as anyone in this competition and this is where we need to show it.
“We have been there in the past and we are going to do it again.”
Qarabag coach Gurban Gurbanov was more concerned about Celtic scoring an away goal than the playing surface.
“We can’t change the pitch but we will do our best to play at the highest level,” he said.
“We can’t let Celtic score, that is very important. It will be a hard game, the advantage is with Celtic.”