NO SCOTTISH club has won a European tie on Romanian soil in 11 attempts. Celtic have only won one of the 31 away group games they have contested in continental competition. Beating Astra Giurgiu in the Group D Europa League at the Marin Anastasovici Stadium in four days’ time is hardly a straightforward task for Ronny Deila’s men.
Astra are bottom of their section with no points from three games after their unlucky loss against a deeply unimpressive home side at Celtic Park a fortnight ago. That 2-1 success allowed Deila’s team to move on to seven points and create a situation whereby the visit of the Scottish champions is do or die for their hosts this week.
Yet Celtic midfielder Stefan Johansen objects to the notion that the Romanians fighting for their lives could give them an edge.
“They will [be fighting for their lives] but we will too,” he says. “We want to get through. We want to win the league, the cups, get as far as we can in Europe, so we’ll be fighting for our lives. We’ve got a good start now with seven points so if we win there it’s looking good for us to get through.”
Short of achieving their Group D objective, Johansen accepts that Celtic cannot be precisely the same team in Europe as they appear to be becoming domestically. The ineligibility of scoring phenomenon John Guidetti for the group phase accounts for that. The Swede will be able to play if Celtic are still in the Europa League come the new year and Johansen admits there have been “a few words” and a few jokes from the on-loan Manchester City player about the pressure being on for his team-mates to make sure he gets to play in the competition.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
Johansen seems optimistic this won’t be Guidetti’s only opportunity to play for Celtic in Europe, the midfielder offering “I think so” to the question as to whether Guidetti would want to sign for the club permanently at the end of his one-year temporary contract.
“I am going to tell him that he is going to stay here. I had heard about him before, because he is Swedish, which is quite like Norwegian. But the first time I really heard about him was when he was doing well at Feyenoord. A couple of my friends with the Norwegian national team played with him at Man City as well so I knew about him a little bit, but not as much as I know now.
“He is such a good guy, he makes you smile in the dressing room, he is a real joker. The most important thing is that he is calm, and always wanting to help the team. He is on loan but he is always thinking about the team. That is what a professional does and I hope ultimately we will get him here.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS