Celtic’s Callum McGregor: Valencia tie showed us the way forward in Europe

Callum McGregor says Celtic’s performance against Valencia in Spain convinced him there is no limit to the Hoops’ European ambitions.
Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor. Pic: SNS/Paul DevlinCeltic midfielder Callum McGregor. Pic: SNS/Paul Devlin
Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor. Pic: SNS/Paul Devlin

Brendan Rodgers’ side exited the Europa League at the last-32 stage after a 1-0 loss at the Mestalla resulted in a 3-0 aggregate defeat for the Scottish champions, who played most of the match with 10 men after right-back Jeremy Toljan was sent off in the first half.

Celtic were knocked out of the competition at the same stage last year by Zenit St Petersburg but McGregor believes Celtic’s display in Valencia offered encouragement for future campaigns.

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The Scotland midfielder said: “The performance on Thursday will actually be good for us because if you play like that in the home leg you have a good chance.

“We now know that when we go and show our character and show that we can play, we are good enough to play against these teams.

“I think the first 35 minutes was probably the best we have been in my time (away from home).

“I thought the system helped us, we had a lot of players centrally to pass the ball and move it through the thirds.

“To go to a place like that and dominate the ball, then it was a really good performance.

“But we can’t keep saying we were unlucky. We have got to eventually learn from it and next year when we arrive in that moment we have got to be better.”

McGregor expects a tough test against in-form Motherwell at Parkhead on Sunday as the Hoops’ attention turns towards an unprecedented domestic treble-treble.

The Steelmen go into the game on the back of six straight league wins and the former Celtic youth player said: “Obviously with the European stuff done then the full focus is on domestic football.

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“Over the last couple of seasons we have been really strong at that so I think it is a case of regrouping, seeing what we have got and then pushing the reset the button and going from now until the end of the season.

“Motherwell always come and make it difficult.

“We will need to use home advantage, they are in good form, they have slightly changed the way they play with a lot of young guys in.

“They are going well, the confidence is high so we need to be ready for it.”