No home comfort in the capital for Celtic

CELTIC legend Murdo MacLeod reckons the Hoops are on the European back foot after selecting Murrayfield for their Champions League qualifier next month.

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Ronny Deila's Celtic will play their Champions League qualifier on a new hybrid surface at Murrayfield ... the home of Scotland's rugby team
Ronny Deila's Celtic will play their Champions League qualifier on a new hybrid surface at Murrayfield ... the home of Scotland's rugby team

New boss Ronny Deila will discover his first opponents today when the draw for the second qualifying round is made in Nyon.

The champions will have to play their home leg on Murrayfield's new hybrid surface due to Parkhead and Hampden being used for the Commonwealth Games.

Celtic will kick off their Euro campaign with games on July 15/16 and 22/23 and MacLeod insists there will be no home comforts as the Hoops hit the road next month.

He told SportTimes: "It is a really tough situation with the qualifying rounds coming so early into Ronny's managerial career at Celtic.

"Celtic have done so well in the Champions League in recent years but still have these three games to get through.

"The big problem, I think, is going to Murrayfield.

"Sometimes you have to look away from the size of the crowd, the game could have been played at a football ground.

"They could have gone to Easter Road, for example, a place where the Celtic players are used to playing.

"They will be on a strange surface in a stadium they haven't played at before.

"It might take them longer than normal to get used to playing there. It is so important for the players to feel comfortable.

"They are going to Murrayfield to play a competitive game and it will be strange, it won't be a plus point for Celtic.

"It will be a plus for the opponents. It doesn't matter where they go because everything is new to them anyway."

With the first crucial qualifier looming on the horizon, boss Deila has little time to work with his squad as he looks to get off to a flying start at Celtic Park.

Defender Virgil van Dijk has been linked with a move to Southampton in recent days while keeper Fraser Forster could also attract interest this summer.

And MacLeod reckons holding on to his top stars will be the first major test of Deila's Celtic tenure.

He said: "When you are looking at the ins and outs, I think it is more important to keep the players than bring anyone else in.

"He won't be given the funds to bring in someone of the same value of the player that leaves.

"For me, that is his No.1 priority, to make sure he keeps the two of them, and others, at the club.

"You still have to bring in one or two players. It is important for the squad that is there to see new faces coming in, it gives everyone a massive boost going into the new season."

Football

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