Commons urges Celtic to deliver KO blow when opening bell sounds in Reykjavik

KRIS COMMONS has challenged Celtic to come out swinging when the opening bell sounds for the club's Champions League campaign tonight in Iceland.

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Kris Commons is acutely aware of the importance of tonight's Champions League qualifier
Kris Commons is acutely aware of the importance of tonight's Champions League qualifier

And the midfielder was in no mood to pull any punches as he looked ahead tonight's first leg qualifier against KR Reykjavik. Commons warned there is simply too much on the line for the SPFL champions to allow themselves to be caught by any kind of sucker punch from the underdogs.

He said: "Everyone knows how vital these games are, not just for the club, but for the whole of Scotland. It's important we get into the Champions League.

"We know what we're carrying on our shoulders. We have to get in there.

"In a way, our first game of the season is our most important. The players have thought about these qualifiers all summer.

"They either make or break our season. We need to have European football. We need those special nights at Celtic Park to keep everyone interested."

Commons, 30, who struck 32 goals last season, will treat this game as if they were playing Barcelona in the Nou Camp or AC Milan in the San Siro.

KR will be given respect, but the Hoops hero says his side have shown they can deal with these tricky situations.

"I think we've proved we can deal with teams like Reykjavik," he said. "Recently, we've been right on the money, apart from the away game in Kazakhstan last season.

"Shakhtar Karagandy was a fright. We almost didn't make the group stages.

"Now you can almost touch it, you can feel it."

With Georgios Samaras gone and James Forrest and Scott Brown both out injured, Commons will be one of the most experienced players in Ronny Deila's first competitive game in charge, but the Mansfield-born star relishes the responsibility.

In scoring the opening goal in the second leg of the Karagandy play-off he showed he can be counted on when the chips are down.

Commons said: "I enjoy that pressure. I thrive on it.

"When your back's against the wall, it's usually when you produce your greatest moments. Last year was exceptional, to be 2-0 down to Karagandy and go through 3-2."

Tonight the small Vallur Stadium can be the launch pad for the Hoops to hit much greater heights, and Commons added: "It's not the same just playing every week in the SPFL. You need those Champions League games in between.

"That gives you the buzz, it's what brings in the fans and the money. It would be devastating not to have it this time around."

Football

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