Moritz Jenz insists Bernabeu won't be the top arena for Celtic in Champions League

Celtic defender Moritz Jenz is full of anticipation at the prospect of visiting the Bernabeu courtesy of the Scottish champions being placed with Real Madrid in Group A of the Champions League.

Celtic's Mortiz Jenz has applauded the club's Champions League draw that, with Real Madrid as top seeds, is the one he believes everyone connected with the Scottish champions wanted. (Photo by Ewan Bootman / SNS Group)
Celtic's Mortiz Jenz has applauded the club's Champions League draw that, with Real Madrid as top seeds, is the one he believes everyone connected with the Scottish champions wanted. (Photo by Ewan Bootman / SNS Group)

But the 23-year-old believes there is one great amphitheatre that will top the Spaniard’s fabled cauldron as Celtic take on the holders, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Dontesk in their section. Five weeks into his one-year loan deal from Lorient, the centre-back is of mind that there is no place like home. And, whatever the glitterati to be faced up in club football’s pre-eminent tournament, he believes no team will be blase about facing Ange Postecoglou’s men in their own backyard.

“I’ve never been to Madrid, so this will be my first trip,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the famous Bernabeu. But for me, nothing compares to Celtic Park. A lot of players, like Messi and the Bayern Munich players, have spoken about the incredible atmosphere here. It’s a frightening place for an away team because the fans are crazy here in Scotland and the game is intense. I think they’ll be looking forward to playing here. I think it’s the draw we’d all been hoping for. It’s the biggest draw you can get. It’s amazing to play against the reigning champions of the Champions League. So we’re looking forward to playing against them and it will be a fantastic evening here at Celtic Park. There’s no sense of fear [from us]. There’s a sense of excitement [in competing] against the best team in Europe, or the world. It’s a good way of showing what we can do and to compete against them.”

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Celtic last progressed from a Champions League group when they produced an unforgettable victory at home to Barcelona that was central to reaching the last 16 in 2012. They did so as runners-up to the Catalan giants, but the German - who joked that friends of his once on the books of Leipzig will now be on to him for tickets - dares to suggest another such finish need not be the extent of their ambitions. “Second place, first place….we just have to get past the group, that’s the target,” he said. “Honestly, I have to say since the first training session, there’s really no limit in the team. The quality that we have, every training session is like a challenge. Every training is new, very demanding. We have dominated in league games and now it’s going to be very interesting to see how we do in the Champions League against the big teams of the other countries. But we are always looking to improve.”

To that end, Celtic’s pre-draw statement of intent was the announcement that Montenegro international Saed Haksabanovic had been acquired from Rubin Kazan. It mght seem Celtic are now over-stocked with wide men - the 23-year-old added to a band comprising Jota, Daizen Maeda, Liel Abada and James Forrest - but Jenz believes otherwise owing to the high intensity style demanded by Postecoglou. “He’s a very talented player and a very nice person,” the defender said of Celtic’s latest arrival. “When you are a big team you need a lot of options and he is another attacking option for us. There’s a lot of competition all over the team, you look at the centre back positions as well. It’s the same upfront. We want to be dangerous for 90 minutes and we have attacking players who can start or come on with 20 minutes to go and can make a difference.”

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