Champions League: Celtic ready for Euro test, says Leigh Griffiths

By Lewis McKenzieBBC Scotland
Celtic can overcome tough Euro challenge - Griffiths

Leigh Griffiths believes Celtic can make the Champions League group stage despite having an extra qualifying round to negotiate this season.

Griffiths' Celtic side will have to play four two-legged ties if they are to reach the group stage.

And they were drawn against Alashkert in the first qualifying round.

"The first game's not going to be easy - a long flight, a tough opponent," said the Scotland striker.

"We don't really know much about them. It'll be hard.

"It's always difficult wherever we go."

Rosenborg await in the next round should the Norwegians defeat Valur and Celtic come through their own tie.

"Then we've got a good tie to look forward to if we get through to the next round," Griffiths said.

Celtic are seeking a third successive appearance in the group stage
Celtic are seeking a third successive appearance in the Champions League group stage.

"We know what's required. We'll give ourselves plenty of recovery time to go over there and get the job done."

Griffiths believes the team have what it takes to reach the group stage this season having navigated through the qualifiers in each of the last two seasons.

"It's hard enough when it's six games, but to make it eight games will be even harder, but the boys are capable of doing it," the 27-year-old said.

"We just need to take it on the chin and get the job done as quickly as we can. It's no easy feat, but we've done it in the last two seasons."

Alashkert will host the first leg against Celtic on 11 July, with the return in Glasgow a week later.

The Scottish champions will welcome back several first-team players ahead of the tie, with Mikael Lustig, Christian Gamboa, Dedryck Boyata and Tom Rogic all in World Cup action for their countries.

Griffiths says having players competing on the world stage can benefit the squad, and hopes he can one day follow suit with Scotland.

"They've been playing at a high level for a number of years now and they're fully deserving of their places in the squad. It's good to have them up there.

Celtic could face Rosenborg, who they defeated 1-0 on aggregate last season
Celtic could face Rosenborg, who they defeated 1-0 on aggregate last season

"It's the pinnacle of your career to play at a major tournament for your country. It's not just me, there's a few boys in the Celtic squad who play for Scotland so I'm sure they'll be thinking exactly the same."

Celtic have made early moves in the summer transfer window, signing Scott Bain and Odsonne Edouard on a permanent basis following their loan spells from Dundee and Paris Saint-Germain respectively.

Edouard scored 11 goals in 29 appearances in his debut season in Scotland and Griffiths says he welcomes the competition for a starting place up front alongside Moussa Dembele.

"You always want to welcome new additions to the squad. We saw Odsonne's quality last year. But it's all about the one-striker position that the gaffer normally plays. You want to be selfish and want to be playing, but we've got three good strikers now to vie for that one place.

"When you do play, you need to take your chance, impress the manager and you'll be in the team.

"It's hard enough when it's two, never mind three strikers, so when the chance comes around, you need to take it with both hands."

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