Celtic get kind Europa League group stage draw

FC Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb and FC Astra will travel to Celtic Park. Picture: Stephen Mansfield
FC Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb and FC Astra will travel to Celtic Park. Picture: Stephen Mansfield
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CELTIC avoided many of the big names in Friday’s Europa League group stage draw, facing FC Salzburg. Dinamo Zagreb and FC Astra in Group D.

Celtic dodged a bullet with regards to their pot one opponents, drawing the Austrian champions FC Salzburg when it could have been Tottenham Hotspur, Inter Milan or current holders Sevilla.

Dinamo Zagreb was the next side to be drawn into the group. Celtic last played them in the 1998-99 Champions League qualifying round where they lost 3-1 to the Croatian side on aggregate.

The last place was taken up by FC Astra. The Romanian club knocked out French giants Lyon in this season’s Europa League qualifying rounds.

“There’s possibilities here,” said Celtic boss Ronny Deila.

“They are good teams of course. We’re going to fight for going through and there’s bigger opportunities there than there will be in Champions League.

“We have to close this chapter with Champions League for this year and just remember the feeling we have and work really hard and use that feeling every day when we get into the same situation, hopefully, next year.

“You have to learn from defeats.

“There’s maybe, I hope, almost 50 games left and that’s what I’m going to focus on.

“You do everything to win the league, we have the cups and also we are in Europe and that is unbelievably positive.”

The first match is a trip to Austria to face FC Salzburg on September 18, the day of the Scottish independence referendum.

The first visitors to Celtic Park are Dinamo Zagreb on October 2.

The final group match is a tough trip to face Dinamo Zagreb in Croata on December 11.

All matches at Celtic Park will have 8.05pm kick-off times, while SPFL and Scottish Cup games due to be played on the Saturday following the Thursday fixtures will likely be rescheduled to the Sunday.