RONNY Deila believes it would be better for Celtic to avoid what would be a highly-charged rematch with Legia Warsaw in the last 32 of the Europa League.
Legia are one of 15 possible opponents Celtic could be paired with in Monday’s draw. The Polish champions defeated Deila’s team 6-1 on aggregate in the third qualifying round of the Champions League earlier this season but the outcome of the tie was reversed by Uefa after it emerged Legia had fielded an ineligible player as a late substitute in the second leg at Murrayfield.
While Deila is confident Celtic would give a better account of themselves on the pitch if they faced Legia again in the Europa League last-32 tie in February, he is concerned about the ongoing ill-feeling among supporters which was a fall-out from the previous clash.
“I understand that maybe the supporters would feel strongly and that’s why I think that maybe it would be better to avoid Legia and play other teams in the next round,” said Deila.
“It would be nice to get something else, but if we get Legia it’s no problem from my point of view. But I don’t think Uefa wants us to play again!
“It would be a different game this time. Legia are a very good team and they showed that against us. While we played badly against them, they went on to get a lot of points in their Europa League group.
“We are a totally different team now than we were back then, so it would be a totally different tie if we got them again. Whoever we draw is going to be a tough opponent and a very good tie for us. Going through and filling the stadium is what we are aiming for.”
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Legia will play the home leg of their next tie behind closed doors as they complete a two-match Uefa sanction for racist behaviour by their supporters during their game against Lokeren last month.
Celtic are currently waiting to discover if they will face any fresh disciplinary action from Uefa for the flare which was lit among their fans during Thursday night’s 4-3 defeat by Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia.
“I didn’t see the flare but I’ve heard about it now,” said Deila. “This is something the club has to answer for. There have been some different cases before. I haven’t been involved before, so it is important the club says something about it.
“But, overall, I’m happy with the fans. So many of them travelled to Zagreb to watch a game where there was almost nothing to play for. The way they kept up the atmosphere in the game was so important. I really, really appreciate that.”
Deila has admitted he must shoulder some of the blame for his team’s brittle defensive performance in Zagreb which left them with a record of conceding 19 goals in 12 European ties so far this season.
“I have to take a lot of responsibility myself,” he said. “When you change five or six players from your normal team and still try to play very offensively with a 4-2-3-1 formation, it can be too much. The balance of the team wasn’t right and we conceded too many goals.
“We had a lack of communication and discipline. I know if I had approached the game more defensively with a regular team, it would have been different.
“Apart from the away game against Legia Warsaw, which we lost 4-1 and was quite similar to how we played in Zagreb, I think we have been much more compact away from home in Europe. We have done quite well in finding that balance.”
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