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Aug 25, 2014

Deila dreaming of Champions League

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Ronny Deila claims taking Celtic into the Champions League would be like "Christmas and New Year" rolled into one.

The Scottish champions appear to be in the box seat after their 1-1 draw with Maribor in the first-leg of their play-off in Slovenia last week.

Speaking at the club's training complex in Lennoxtown ahead of the return game at Parkhead on Tuesday night, the Norwegian described his feeling about the possibility of taking the final step into the lucrative group stages where the Hoops would rub shoulders for the third successive season with the elite of European football.

"It is a dream to have the opportunity to play in the Champions League, " said Deila, who would only reveal that "things were moving" with regards the signing of Ghana winger Wakaso Mubarak from Rubin Kazan and Sporting Gijon's Serbian striker Stefan Scepovic.

"It is the biggest tournament, the highest level in football so it is Christmas and Happy New Year at the same time.

"It is going to be a huge game and a huge experience. I feel ready and the team is ready as well.

"So I am looking forward to it."

The former Stromsgodset boss, who took over from Neil Lennon in June, is well aware that he is getting a second bite at the European cherry.

Legia Warsaw thrashed the Scottish champions 6-1 on aggregate in their third qualifier but the Polish club were effectively drummed out of the competition by UEFA for fielding a player who should have been suspended in the second leg at Murrayfield.

Deila, who will have full-back Adam Matthews back in the squad following his recovery from a calf injury, said: "We have a new chance to get into the Champions League and we have to do everything we can to use that chance well.

"It will be a full stadium, an unbelievable atmosphere and we will do everything we can to make that atmosphere even better.

"We have to perform for two games. We did well in the first leg and it is going to be a hard second leg.

"But we have everything to win."

Deila clams his players are fitter and feel more comfortable with their remit since the two Legia games where a 4-1 defeat in Warsaw was followed by a 2-0 loss in Edinburgh, which was overturned into a 3-0 win for the Hoops due to the Polish club's indiscretion.

However, he knows his team will have to strike a balance between going all-out attack in traditional Celtic-style on European nights at Parkhead, and guarding against the counter-attack.

"It is important to start well and get the crowd with you but you have to play tactically well and have balance in the team," he said.

"Maribor played very tactically at home and they will do the same here.

"They were very easy to read but very hard to stop because they are very good on the counter-attack.

"They are a well-organised, hard-working team so it is very important that we also have the same focus.

"We have to press together and we have to be compact. We want to attack and be offensive but in a clever way."

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