Rangers branded 'unpleasant and aggressive' as Sparta Prague star dismisses Celtic wins

Ondrej Celustka is adamant Sparta Prague's heavy victories over Celtic last term will not cause them to expect an easy game against Rangers in the Europa League on Thursday.

Ondrej Celustka during Sparta Prague training at Celtic Park in November last year. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

The Czechs destroyed Neil Lennon's Hoops 4-1 home and away in back-to-back group-stage matches last November.

However, defender Celustka insists that will not come into Sparta's thoughts as they prepare to host the Scottish champions, who finished 25 points ahead of Celtic last term.

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In quotes from Sparta's pre-match press conference translated from his native Czech, Celustka said: "We managed the matches with Celtic, but the year is a long time and every match is different.

"Rangers are first in the table, they concede few goals. We certainly do not expect anything simple and we do not intend to assume that we are doing well against the Scots.

"Rangers are a successful Scottish team, we expect it to be a very unpleasant and aggressive opponent. We have to deal with their style.

"It would be ideal not to allow the opponent their style. We want to control the game ourselves, be good on the ball and play Rangers with our quality. We have technical players, good runners. If we don't lose the balls and take advantage of our strengths, we can think of success."

Thursday's game comes six months after Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara was racially abused by Slavia Prague player Ondrej Kudela in a Europa League tie at Ibrox.

Celustka, who played for Czech Republic against Scotland at Euro 2020, insists it would be wrong for any ill-feeling between Rangers and Sparta's city rivals to cause any further acrimony in Thursday's match.

He said: "We know what the Rangers match with Slavia was like. But now Sparta is here, focusing only on our performance. What happened in the spring is completely beyond us.

"We have to show our maximum, that's the only way we can succeed. If we were to be provoked by something, it would hurt us."

Thursday's match was supposed to be played behind closed doors after Sparta fans directed racist chants in a Champions League third qualifying round tie but the Czechs have been given special dispensation by UEFA to allow around 10,000 youngsters into the Letna Stadium.

Celustka said: "I am glad that there will be children at the stadium and there will be an atmosphere. It may be different than usual, but it will be.

"Matches without people is bad for football. Ten thousand children at the stadium, I perceive it very positively and I am very happy about it."

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