The Sunday Post (Inverness)
Crowd can help put frighteners on the Austrians
Jozo Simunovic says if Celtic fans can intimidate Manchester City, they can certainly put the frighteners on Salzburg. The Hoops hosted the English Premier League champions in 2016 in the group stages of the Champions League. And then, in an atmosphere praised by the visitors for its feverpitch intensity, they held their more illustrious rivals to a 3-3 draw. Come Thursday night, the aim will be to go one better than that when their Europa League rivals will bid to see if their perfect record in the competition can survive the trip to the east-end cauldron.
“It means a lot to get through the group stage and still be in European competition into the new year, so we’ll be giving everything on Thursday night to win,” said Simunovic.
“We know it won’t be easy, Salzburg have been the best team in the group for sure. “But our stadium is no favourite for any team to come to.
“If our fans can have an effect on Man City and other teams we’ve played in the past few years, I’m sure they can have an effect on Salzburg.
“It’ll be an amazing atmosphere, it’s the final game in the group and it’ll be big.”
The Austrians have swept all before them, both domestically and in Europe, for a record reading P 28 W 24 D 4. That, though, the Bosnian internationalist says, will only provide him and his team-mates with additional incentive to win.
“That’s a motivation for us, we want to stop their run. Why not?” he said. “However, it’s not about sending a message to the rest of Europe, it’s more about giving everything that we can give ourselves.
“If we give our best, we can show our best.” Something they have already done domestically, the Celt believes, by winning last week’s League Cup Final. “In football the trophies are all that anyone remembers so for us it was an amazing day, and a great start for this season,” he said. “Now we need to keep going, there are another couple of trophies to get, but in order to achieve our aims we need to take things stage by stage.” With Dedryck Boyata injured, Simonuovic can look forward to pairing up with his friend, Filip Benkovic, in central defence. “Benko’s a quality player, and we played a little for our last club together as well – I was with him on his debut and talked him through it! – so this is us reunited,” he said.
“We know each other really well, so we just need more games to get ourselves more compact, get our understanding better, but that will come for sure.”