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Tuesday 6 December 2016

John Collins: Qarabag a major threat to Celtic's' Champions League bid

John Collins
John Collins

John Collins insists Celtic players and fans are well aware that Qarabag are a real threat to Champions League hopes.

The Hoops play host to the Azerbaijan champions in the third qualifying round of European club football's elite competition with the first-leg at Parkhead tomorrow night.

Celtic eased past Stjarnan in the second qualifier with a 6-1 aggregate win. Ronny Deila's assistant claims everyone associated with the Scottish champions is aware that Qarabag represent a "massive step-up" from the Iceland part-timers.

"The Celtic fans are very smart," said Collins. "They know there are no mugs at this level of European football.

"I would rate them as a good football team, I would say definitely Champions League standard.

"They like to pass the ball and there is good movement throughout their team. And don't worry, the players know all about Qarabag. We have briefed them.

"We have watched lots of videos of their recent games, in the Champions League and last season they played in the group stages of the Europa League against Inter Milan and St Etienne.

"At this stage of the tournament you have to make sure you know everything about your opponents. It is a step up obviously from our last opponents, a massive step up and we will have to play well to win the tie but we are capable of playing well. A clean sheet and a couple of goals would be a perfect scenario."

Collins stressed that Celtic will have to play at a level above what they can get way with in the Scottish Premiership, if they are to make the play-off.

"All the teams want to be in the group stages, we are no different."

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