Deila: Playing in Iceland will be just like a trip to Dingwall
Champions League: Celtic manager insists side will be pitch perfect in tie
Celtic manager Ronny Deila insists his players will have no problems adapting to Stjarnan’s plastic pitch and small ground in tonight’s Champions League qualifier.
The Scottish champions flew into Iceland yesterday with a 2-0 lead from the first leg of the second qualification tie against the part-timers at Parkhead last week.
However, the Hoops’ 60,000-capacity stadium stands in stark contrast with Stjarnan’s Samsungvoller ground which has an artificial pitch and only one stand which fits approximately 1,000 spectators.
Home boss Runar Pall Sigmundsson says it will be a challenge for Celtic to play on his side’s pitch and hopes to make it difficult for the visitors in tonight’s tie.
Deila, who revealed Nadir Ciftci’s six- game domestic ban for biting before his summer move to Celtic from Dundee United would not be appealed, responded: “He has to take a trip to Scotland and look at some games there.
“I don’t think he knows what Scotland is about. It is not only Parkhead in Scotland.
“He can go to Inverness and Ross County, places not so different from this one.
“And I am very positive about artificial surfaces. It is much better to play on a good artificial than a very bad grass pitch.
“Everybodywantsto play on a very good grass pitch like at Parkhead but I think the surroundings are going to be like with the surface that we had to handle at Hamilton and Kilmarnock last season – and we did that quite well.
“So I amlooking forward to the game.”
Deila was reluctant to discuss Ciftci, whoonMonday received an eight-game ban – two of which are suspended – after being found guilty of biting Jim McAlister during a Dundee derby on the final day of last season.
The 23-year-old forward will miss the first six games of the domestic season but is free to play in Europe.
Asked if it was the club’s decision to accept the punishment, Deila said: “Yes, we want to move on, that’s the most important thing because he has a long career here at Celtic and this is just the start.
“I haven’t talked so much about it to him. It hap- pened before he came to Celtic so I haven’t put myself into the case.
“Nadir has said he is a little bit disappointed but that’s fine, we knew this could happen and we have a lot of attackers at the club whocandothe jobwhenhe is out.
“But he is ready for playing and looking forward to the next match.”
Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon believes the Icel andic outfit showed enough last week in Glasgow to suggest they could be a threat.
He said: “Theyhada couple of chances, especially in the second half. One from the edge of the box was quite close.
“If they had nicked a goal it would have made this an even more difficult task.
“We need to approach the game in the right manner and make sure that we are defending well first and foremost and then look to score ourselves.”
Around 200 Hoops supporters are expected to travel but Stjarnan captain Michael Praest insists the home supporters’ raucous backing will more than make up for their lack of numbers.
“They will be surprised when they hear our supporters,” said the 28-yearold Danish defender.
“They are the best in Icelandandthey are very loud, they help us a lot.
“They are usually very good at making us feel welcome and the opponents feel not too welcome.
“We hope for a lot of cheering to help us get the result we need.”
CelticdefenderVirgilvan Dijk is available again after missing the first legduetoa suspension.