Gordon Strachan insists Celtic need statement win over Atletico Madrid to boost CL qualification prospects
Strachan pinpointed the Spanish outfit as the best team in Group E and reckons the Hoops will need to beat them at least once, either home or away.
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Gordon Strachan highlighted the importance of Celtic winning at least one Champions League clash against Group E favourites Atletico Madrid to give themselves a chance of reaching the knockout stages.
The former Hoops manager has compared the task facing Brendan Rodgers’ side to Scotland’s current Euro 2024 qualifiying campaign, admitting his old club will need a statement victory over the La Liga giants.
Celtic suffered a 2-0 loss to Feyenoord in Rotterdam on Matchday One earlier this week to leave them rock-bottom of the section. They face Serie A outfit Lazio at Parkhead in just under a fortnight’s time before back-to-back games against Atletico.
Strachan believes the Scottish champions can compete in the group if they get all of their best players back fit and available - but he isn’t expecting free-flowing games of football.
Speaking to Gambling Zone, he said: “What Celtic need to do to give themselves a chance in the Champions League is to somehow pick up that big result against Atletico Madrid because they are probably the best side in the group.
“In many ways, it’s a little bit like Scotland; we got the big result against Spain in the European qualifiers. To get through these group stages, you need to get a big result against one of the biggest teams and, if it is the best team, then you’re giving yourself a brilliant chance of being in the draw for the last sixteen.
“That’s what Celtic will be looking for. It is going to be a tough test. I think they will need all of their best players back, fit, and available – I do think that with Celtic’s best eleven they can give each of these teams a game. There isn’t a team in the group like Manchester City, Real Madrid or even Arsenal. Atletico Madrid and Lazio are hard-working, disciplined teams.
“I don’t think we’ll see spectacular games of football because of the opponents. Atletico Madrid are experts at wearing teams down, grinding teams down. Lazio are the same. Celtic like to play football, but against those two teams the players need to go into them with an understanding that they are going to be hard fought battles. It will be hard work to beat them because of the way they set-up. They just need to get something out of them.”