Celtic need to win tomorrow’s match against Leipzig to have any real chance of progressing to the Europa League knockout stages. But John Hartson believes Brendan Rodgers’ side have one key advantage.
“If Celtic are ever going to win a game in Europe, it’ll come at Celtic Park,” said the club’s former striker.
“How many times have they defied the odds there in terms of winning a game, a big game? I feel Thursday night is a game that they’re going to have to take to Leipzig, it’s almost going to have to be a perfect performance. But the crowd will be there, as it is always is, that 12th man that they’ve got at home. We’ve all witnessed it.
“It’s very difficult to win away from home in Europe. We had a great run in the Uefa Cup in 2003 but, in the Champions League, we had a terrible record.
“We couldn’t win away from home. But, when we dropped out of the Champions League that year, 2003, we beat Liverpool, we beat Blackburn, but lost in Vigo, we lost in Stuttgart, so there were times during that run where our home form got us through.
“It’s difficult away from home. But on Thursday night I just feel that you’d be a brave man to go against Celtic because something happens at that stadium, on European nights.
“They’re very special, and it’s not a myth. Its happened loads of times before.”
Paris St Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht all proved capable of getting a result in the East End of Glasgow last term but Hartson insists that will not dilute the potency of the Parkhead atmosphere and says that the fact Celtic are unbeaten on their own turf in all competitions this term means opponents still travel to Parkhead wary of the club’s home record.
“I think the fear factor will still be there, I think the atmosphere will still be there, it’s just that in recent years I think we’ve had some really, really stiff opposition,” said BT Sport analyst Hartson. “But I quite fancy Celtic to pull a result off, I really do.
“I think Leipzig are beatable. They’re not Barcelona, they’re not Bayern Munich, or PSG or Man City, they are a team that I feel, over there, we created a few chances against and the game was almost in the balance up until they scored that first goal and we had to chase it and lost a second.
“We have to start strong, defend well, not take risks at the back, not make any individual errors. Craig Gordon is going to have a few good saves at times, and then you need big Edouard, who you paid £9m for, these are the games you’re looking for your top goalscorer, your record signing to come up trumps.”
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