Celtic are just two games away from the Champions League group stages with only Swedish side Malmo standing in the way of the promised land and the riches it beholds – with qualification worth upwards of £15 million before a game has been played.
Ronny Deila’s men were beaten at this stage last year by Slovenian side Maribor, but with no injury worries and a year under their belt together, the Norwegian is confident his players can get the job done.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s match, Celtic manager Ronny Deila, said: “I really believe in my team. I know that when we play our system that well, it is not possible to stop us. We have come quite far over the past year and that is giving me a lot of confidence.
“The players read Malmo’s comments in the media themselves but, again, it’s about us. It’s not about Malmo. We have to do our job as well as possible and if we do that, I know we have a very good chance to win the tie. I like to do the talking on the pitch.”
“Malmo have been getting better in the last few weeks and, in their best periods, they could challenge Celtic for the title if they were playing in the Scottish league. But they couldn’t do it for a long time. The money and stability is much better at Celtic and we are a much bigger club than Malmo.
“If I had to choose between the Malmo squad and my squad, I would choose my squad. We are individually stronger than them.”
Malmo manager Age Hareide, claims that his side need to deal with the Celtic fans and not the players as that is where the pressure is.
Hareide added: “We are better than Celtic, better than Rosenborg. In Norway, Molde might come close but we are better. We are better than FC Copenhagen.
“The pressure comes more from the stands at Parkhead (rather) than on the pitch. It can be difficult to communicate with the players so we need to be alert. But I think our team is set up well for this type of game.
“I had a whole Sunday with Celtic. I saw four of their matches. It’s probably my strength, to find out tactics against different opponents. I create and check the details and I have a good picture of them now.”
“When I was watching the Kilmarnock v Celtic game last week, I was fascinated by the winger Forrest.
“He looked like a good old Scottish winger, with pace and flair. He reminds me of Willie Johnston who played at West Brom.
“He’s that type of player with quick feet. He’s more of a winger than a midfielder – he’s a throwback. Scotland always produce players with flair, who are quick and technical.”
Hareide, was in charge of Helsingborg when they lost 4-0 on aggregate to Celtic in 2012 under previous manager Neil Lennon, but came out of retirement to take over at Malmo last year.
But tonight he faces fellow Norwegian Ronny Deila, on his younger opponent, Hareide said: “He’s done a lot in a short period of time. He did a fantastic job at Stromsgodset but he also learned the trade in a good way.
“He was a good player and he continued to learn the coaching side of it by being assistant and later took Stromsgodset to the championship, which was a great achievement.
“I know him as a person and he’s a very nice person. He’s done a great job at Celtic because you come into this culture and a club of this size. It is much, much tougher than everyone knows.”
Malmo fought back from a 2-0 first leg defeat to beat Red Bull Salzburg 3-2 on aggregate in the last qualifying round, while Celtic squeezed past Azerbaijani side Qarabag 1-0 on aggregate in the previous round.
Tonight’s tie will be just as tough for Celtic and they will be looking to prevent Malmo from scoring a valuable away goal, while hopeful of taking a lead over to Sweden to build upon.
Celtic striker Nadir Ciftci, currently serving a domestic ban, is in contention to play for the Scottish champions tonight.
New signing Scott Allan has been named in the 20-man squad following his transfer from Hibernian on Friday evening and Kris Commons has recovered from a dead leg he suffered in Saturday’s 4-2 win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Malmo are missing captain Markus Rosenborg through suspension, while Enoch Kofi Adu is also banned for the first leg at Celtic Park.
Former Celtic loan player Jo Inge Berget returns to Parkhead for the first time since he failed to make the grade under Ronny Deila last season.
Celtic XI: Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Forrest, Johansen, Armstrong; Griffiths.
Subs: Bailly, Ambrose, Ciftci, Commons, Mackay-Steven, Rogic, Mulgrew.
Malmo XI: Wiland, Tinnerholm, Arnason, Bengtsson, Yotun, Rodic, Lewicki, Rakip, Berget, Wolff-Eikrem, Djurdic.
Subs: Andersson, Konate, Carvalho, Vindheim, Molins, Mehmeti, Sana.