CFR Cluj boss Dan Petrescu has acknowledged the idea of Celtic being motivated by revenge on Thursday.
Cluj make their hotly-anticipated second visit to Celtic Park this season on Thursday night. Celtic are still angered by being knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers by the Romanians. It remains, to this day, our worst result of the season so far.
You could also argue that the Cluj defeat was our worst home result in some time too. It was a night of catastrophic proportions. Even now, the haunting of that defeat hasn’t truly been exorcised.
Petrescu has, for the first time, acknowledged that revenge will be on Celtic’s mind. Speaking to DigiSport, the Cluj manager believes his side are under more pressure after their Parkhead success last month.
“They were once beaten by us and eliminated by us. They will surely have extra motivation, that’s clear. We put pressure on ourselves after this victory and now have to withstand this pressure to get out of the groups. Which is not something I imagined myself at the beginning of the groups.”
Petrescu also spoke at his pre-match press conference for tonight’s match against Gaz Metan. In comments picked up by Mediafax, he hinted that he’ll be picking a strong team tonight.
“We have always had problems against Gaz Metan. They will certainly approach the match with the utmost seriousness. It is far from the match with Celtic. We have to win to stay in first place.”
The perfect game to bounce back from Hibernian draw
Celtic couldn’t have asked for a better fixture to bounce back from yesterday’s result. Cluj offers a seriously tough examination of our progress over the last month. Victories against Rangers and AIK may have been impressive, but gaining revenge on Cluj will be just as sweet.
Petrescu isn’t an idiot. He knows in his mind how motivated Celtic will be coming into this match. The mind-games he played before the Champions League tie seemed to work to an extent. It’s vital that Celtic’s star-men don’t get sucked into a false sense of security this time around.
However, having that defeat last month should help rid us of any complacency. The players know how difficult this match will be. Even if we’re playing a side struggling for form, they still managed to knock off Lazio on matchday one.
If Neil Lennon’s Celts can go out and do the business against the Romanian champions, it’ll do wonders for the confidence around Parkhead. Nobody will be talking about our draw with Hibernian. It’s the perfect game to rid that result from our system.
Petrescu changed his full team before he made the trip to Parkhead last time around. However, he seems to be taking this match with Gaz Metan seriously. It would be surprising if, considering they’re only joint top with Vitorul, he made a similar number of changes tonight.
Tired legs and all of that nonsense won’t play a part on Thursday though. Cluj will know that another win here would be huge for their football club. But for Celtic, we simply couldn’t have asked for a better match.