Celtic tipped as potential Europa League winners by rival manager

Cluj boss Dan Petrescu believes Celtic can win the Europa League this season.

Cluj manager Dan Petrescu described Celtic as a 'Champions League team'. Picture: AFP via Getty Images
Cluj manager Dan Petrescu described Celtic as a 'Champions League team'. Picture: AFP via Getty Images

The Scottish champions are in Romania for their final Group E fixture having already qualified for the last 32 of the competition as section winners.

Cluj knocked the Scottish champions out of the Champions League qualifiers in August but lost 2-0 at Parkhead on matchday two of the Europa League.

The Romanian side have battled into second place ahead of Italian giants Lazio and French side Rennes and need only a point against Celtic to guarantee their qualification to the knockout stages.

Speaking at the Dr. Constantin Radulescu Stadium, the former Sheffield Wednesday and Chelsea defender put the standard of opposition his side have faced in this group campaign into his own context.

"Celtic can go all the way, they can win the trophy," said Petrescu. "And I think the same of Lazio if they qualify. Both teams have the capabilities and they are good enough to win this competition.

"In my opinion Lazio and Celtic are Champions League teams.

"Celtic can bring three teams to the Romanian championship and they would still win it with the third team, so they are still the favourites."

Celtic, however, are set to be depleted for the match. Captain Scott Brown is suspended and right-back Jeremie Frimpong is not registered for European competition, while manager Neil Lennon will take the opportunity to rest some other players amid a busy fixture schedule.

Petrescu, whose side were knocked off the top of their domestic league and into second place with a 2-1 defeat to Botosani at the weekend, is adamant that the Scottish champions will not be satisfied with a point.

Celtic have won four and drawn one of their five group fixtures and retained the Betfred Cup with a 1-0 win over Rangers in the final at Hampden Park on Sunday.

Petrescu added: "I know the coach, I know the mentality. They will come here to win the game.

"If we go for a draw we can lose, so we have to pay attention. Celtic have won their last 12 matches. They are a very good team.

"It's clear we want to qualify, nothing else matters. We have done everything to arrive here.

"Irrespective of what will be tomorrow, I would be sad if we don't move on but I have to admit I didn't expect to have a possibility to qualify out of the group at home with one more point.

"In the Romanian championship if we want to be first we have to win the next two games.

"It would be a miracle if we qualify (in Europa League) and if we also came first in Romania."