Celtic: Ronny Deila in no mood for excuses against Qarabag

Ronny Deila
Ronny Deila is adamant Virgil van Dijk's focus is on helping Celtic progress in the Champions League
Qarabag v Celtic: Champions League qualifying third round - second leg
Venue: Tofiq Bahramov Stadium, Baku Date: 5 Aug Kick-off: 17:30 BST
Coverage: BBC Radio Scotland & live text on BBC Sport website

Ronny Deila dismissed suggestions that either the state of the pitch or the heat in Baku will hamper his Celtic team's chances against Qarabag.

The pitch has been scorched by the sun but the Celtic boss is adamant his players can handle the conditions in Wednesday's Champions League qualifier.

Celtic lead 1-0 from the first leg thanks to Dedryck Boyata's header.

"We have to make the best of the situation and play to the conditions," said Deila ahead of Tuesday's training.

And he said that Southampton have not made a bid for Virgil van Dijk.

Newspaper speculation has linked the English Premier League outfit with a £7m move for the Dutch defender.

However, Deila insists Celtic are not interested in selling the 23-year-old, who joined Celtic two years ago for £2.6m from FC Groningen.

Virgil van Dijk
Van Dijk is preparing for Celtic's Champions League qualifier in Azerbaijan

"They haven't bid. He is a top, top international player," said the Norwegian.

"We want to make this big club a success and we need the best players and he is one of them.

"We don't need to sell him. It's a day before a very important game. I'm impressed with Virgil, he is very focused, he is happy and he really wants to play in the Champions League with Celtic."

Deila was in no mood to look for excuses before Wednesday's early evening kick-off, declaring himself happy with the journey to Baku as well as the team hotel and said he was "very excited" and "looking forward to the game".

"We have a good opportunity here," he told reporters. "I think we have done everything to make a good performance.

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Match preview: Celtic have to score in Baku - Bonner

"It is hot here, especially during the day, and it's going to be hot during the game as well.

"It is not a perfect pitch but we are used to playing on those pitches in Scotland in the winter.

"We'll get more answers when we train on it. This is how it is in football - sometimes you have different conditions and you have to handle that and since I came to Celtic I have been very impressed with how the players have handled different situations.

"It's the same for them [Qarabag]. We'll agree what we need to do and do it as well as we can and then we'll have a very good chance.

"We know that the Champions League is a tough competition. It's a new game, we are leading 1-0. We are confident that we are a better team now than we were last year. It's going to be tough but we are prepared."

For captain Scott Brown, Celtic's chances of progressing to the play-off round rest on their ability to dictate the match.

The pitch at the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium
The pitch at the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium has been damaged by the intense heat in Baku

"We need to manage the conditions, we've got to try to control the game, keep the ball and play at our tempo," he said.

"It would be great if we could score early doors. We defend well as a team, from the front to the back. We believe that we can score and that we can keep a clean sheet as well.

"You've got to trust in the defence, the midfield and the strike force and let everyone do their job."

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