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The ‘Henrik Larsson testimonial’ Champions League playoff

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Legendary Swedish striker Henrik Larsson is revered by both sets of supporters and while european football will see a spectacle in which both sides celebrate and laud one of Sweden’s most lethal strikers, they will also be hoping that their side comes out on top.

Neil Lennon’s side reached the play-off round following Celtic’s 4-1 aggregate victory over HJK Helsinki, while Helsingborgs had to beat Welsh champions The New Saints and Polish side Slask Wroclaw to reach this stage.

Celtic will travel to Sweden for the first leg on 21st August with the return leg at Celtic Park on 29th August.

After the draw was announced, Larsson admitted that he had ‘mixed emotions’ about the european tie.

Speaking to BBC Scotland, Larsson stated: “I have a great history with both clubs. Without Helsingborgs, I would never have come out in Europe to become a professional footballer. And, without Celtic, I would never have been the player that I was.

“My feelings are a little mixed on the situation. I just hope the best team over the two games wins and it is a good game for the fans.”

Following the resignation of Conny Karlsson several months into the new season, Helsingborgs are now managed by former Manchester City manager Age Hareide.

“They have changed their coaches now, but they are a very strong team,” said Larsson. “They were second two years ago and last year they won the league. It is a good side that is well organised in the defence. They are struggling a bit in the offensive part, but one of the strikers scored a hat-trick against the Polish team they knocked out. It is a tough game for Celtic but not impossible.”

The Swedish side were held to a 0-0 draw by TNS in Wales, before despatching the Welsh side 3-0 in Sweden. In the next round they beat Polish champions Slask Wroclaw 3-0 in Poland before winning 3-1 in Helsingborg thanks to a hat trick by Norwegian debutant Thomas Sorum.

Larsson added: “It won’t be easy for Celtic to go and pick up a win, but if I was pushed I would say that having the home match second may just give a slight advantage to them.

“A lot of people have mentioned Helsingborgs’ start to the season but they are the champions and finished second the previous season. If you look at how they play they are very good defensively and don’t concede many goals.”

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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