Celtic v Qarabag: Support drives us on - John Collins

By Jonathan SutherlandBBC Scotland
Celtic beat Rennes 2-0 in a friendly on Saturday
Celtic beat French side Rennes 2-0 in a friendly on Saturday
Champions League third round qualifying first leg: Celtic v Qarabag
Venue: Celtic Park Date: 29 July Kick-off: 19:45
Coverage: BBC Radio Scotland 810 MW (no online rights), live text on BBC Sport website

Assistant manager John Collins is sure a "fantastic atmosphere" will help Celtic against Qarabag, even if Celtic Park is not full on Wednesday.

Last week, manager Ronny Deila called for a 60,000 capacity crowd to "strike fear" into the Azerbaijan opponents.

Around 35,000 tickets have been sold for the Champions League qualifier.

"No matter how many Celtic fans are here they will be behind the team," said Collins. "It gives you energy, gives you that extra yard."

Having seen off Stjarnan 6-1 on aggregate, Celtic now look forward to the first leg of their encounter with Qarabag, who rarely play in front of more than 4,000 fans at home.

"Of course we'd love it to be a full stadium - there's nowhere like it in the world when it's full," added Collins.

"No matter if it's 40,000, 45,000, it will still be a fantastic atmosphere."

"When you walk out at Celtic Park, down that tunnel on a European night you hear the roar and then you hear the singing throughout the game it drives players on.

"It gives you that momentum even when the game goes against you and sometimes it can spook the opponents.

"If we can get a goal and you hear the roar and the fans non-stop singing, that's what we want. It's up to us to get the fans excited early in the game, to get them singing and happy."

Celtic missed out on the Champions League in Deila's debut season and it is a key goal for the management team this time.

"We know how important the Champions League is - for the whole country - but especially for us," continued Collins.

Charlie Mulgrew missed training after picking up an injury at the weekend
Charlie Mulgrew missed training after picking up an injury at the weekend

"We've had success in it before and that's where we want to be. All the teams want to be in the group stages, we're no different.

"But we've got to earn the right, and to earn the right you've got to play well and make sure there's 100% concentration from the first minute to the last minute. That's key at this level. You can't switch off. You switch off and most of the time you get punished."

Like Celtic, Qarabag played in the Europa League group phase last term, finishing behind Inter Milan, who went on to knock out the Scottish champions, and Dnipro, who reached the final.

"They're a good football team," was Collins' assessment.

"They like to pass the ball, good movement throughout their team. A couple of Brazilians that are very dangerous, one up front, a striker Reynaldo and a midfielder who knows how to pass the ball.

"They're a good all-round team. I would say definitely a Champions League standard team. It's a step up from our last opponents, a massive step up. We'll have to play well if we're to get through but we're capable of playing well that's for sure."

Celtic have an injury doubt over Charlie Mulgrew who did not train on Monday after picking up a knock in the weekend friendly victory over Rennes.

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