Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic believes the key to Champions League success against Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday will not be Parkhead putting the frighteners on the Germans but the fact that there will be no fear factor in Brendan Rodgers’ camp.
The point gained from the thrilling 3-3 draw with Manchester City last month was partly attributed to the frenzy of the Celtic crowd spooking Pep Guardiola’s side. But the result has had an emboldening effect as Rodgers’ men seek a win that would put them in a strong position to finish third in Group C behind Barcelona and City and so ensure continental competition for the club beyond Christmas.
“Will Borussia be scared? I haven’t even thought about them,” said Simunovic, who is hoping to make his first European start this season against Gladbach. “I just think about our team and the Celtic fans.
“What I can say is that we are not afraid of anybody, especially at home. We believe in ourselves and we can’t wait for the start of the match.
“We pressed high against Man City and we will try to do that again. We need to believe in how we play. I am confident about the game against Borussia. I don’t know much about Borussia, I have never played against them. It’s about us.
“We don’t need to focus on the other team, we need to focus on our own game. We have good attacking players and that gives us confidence. We need to believe that we can win.
“With the fans behind us, with the amazing atmosphere inside the stadium, we have a good chance. This is a big game but that’s always the case. We need to treat this like the biggest game and be ready to give everything.”
The encounter could have special significance for Simunovic, who admits he has come through a difficult year after leaving Croatia Zagreb as they were about to embark upon a Champions League campaign, then appearing as if he would never enjoy such experiences in Glasgow.
Injury problems wrecked last season following his £3.5million August 2015 transfer.
“It’s been a tough year for me,” he said. “It was a tough period in my career but I used the time carefully. I focused on my fitness and my head. Now I am ready.
“It would mean a lot to play in the Champions League for this club. I can’t wait for Wednesday. I don’t know whether I will play or not, but it’s about the team. No matter who the manager picks, I know they will give their all.”
Meanwhile, Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Tobias Strobl admits going to Celtic Park without three key strikers is a huge loss, writes Mark Walker. The Bundesliga giants travel to Glasgow after a disappointing goalless draw against ten-man second bottom side Hamburg where they missed two penalties.
Monchengladbach are almost certainly without their best strikers, Raffael, Thorgan Hazzard and Josip Drmic for the game.
And Strobl didn’t try to disguise how big a blow it is. He said: “You got the feeling that we could have played [against Hamburg] for two years and not scored a goal. We are missing big players like Thorgan Hazard, Raffael and Josip Drmic so obviously that is not ideal.”