Celtic defender Carl Starfelt picks out surprising plus from Europa Conference League draw

By Euan Davidson

December 14, 2021

Celtic defender Carl Starfelt has picked out a surprising factor he believes will suit the boys against Bodø/Glimt in the next round of the Europa Conference League.

Specifically, Starfelt thinks the Aspmyra Stadion’s plastic pitch could actually help, rather than hinder Celtic in Norway.

Plastic pitches have been a problem for Celtic in recent years. This season alone, the Tony Macaroni’s surface was a factor in a poor Bhoys display and 1-0 loss. Kilmarnock’s Rugby Park, and Hamilton’s New Douglas Park also have artificial surfaces. Celtic fans were relieved to see both clubs drop to the Championship.

Photo by Fabio Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

However, Starfelt, acutely attuned to Scandinavian winter football, doesn’t see it as a problem. The Sweden international said [Herald]: “It’s a tough draw.

“I’ve some friends playing in the Norwegian League, so I’ve been following them and I know it’s a very good team that has done very good over the past two seasons.

“They like to play a bit like ourselves, with lots of possession and a very high press. [Bodø/Glimt] have a lot of energy and like attacking football. So it will be an interesting tie with both teams trying to dominate the ball.

“They have an artificial pitch. But I think that can suit us as in Scandinavia at that time of the year you play on either very bad grass or artificial, so I will take that option.”

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Celtic defender Carl Starfelt believes Europa Conference League opponents’ pitch is a boost, not a hindrance

It needs to the pointed out that Bodø/Glimt’s artificial surface isn’t something you’d play 5-a-side on. The surface at the Aspmyra Stadion has actually won plaudits.

According to the EMEA Synthetic Turf Council (ESTC), the pitch Bodø/Glimt use has been rigorously tested. It boasts [ESTC]: “a predictable bounce of the ball throughout the entire year, excellent shock absorption, injury reduction and increased player comfort and performance.”

It didn’t help Roma and José Mourinho out too much in the Europa Conference League. But their 6-1 loss [BBC] was down to the two-time UEFA Champions League winner picking a second-string team to face the Norwegian champions.

Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

At this level, Celtic can’t really make excuses. Nor should they plan on doing so.

The reality is, in more testing climes like northern Norway, it makes sense to have synthetic pitches. If the case can be made in Scotland, it can certainly be made closer to the Arctic Circle.

The Norwegian champions are certainly one of the more difficult tests Celtic could’ve landed from yesterday’s draw. However, with Ange’s Celtic having had a winter break, and inevitably adding quality to the squad, there’s room for optimism in the Europa Conference League.

Plastic pitch or no plastic pitch.

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