FC Copenhagen defender Andreas Bjelland believes that Celtic represents a “real opportunity” to qualify for the last-32.
The Danish champions have been paired with Neil Lennon’s Celts for the first time since 2006. Both sides managed to trade wins in the Champions League group stage 13 years ago.
Usually in the run-up to a game like this, a mutual respect between the two clubs in the media shines through. However, you can’t help but raise an eyebrow at some of Bjelland’s comments on how he views us as an opponent.
Speaking in comments published by the Daily Record, here’s what the centre-back had to say on us:
“I see this as a real opportunity to progress. I’m not an expert on Scottish football or on Celtic. But from what I have seen, I definitely think we have a big chance.
“Of course we think we can qualify. It will be an exciting couple of games and it will be difficult.
“Celtic have a super stadium with a memorable atmosphere and it will be a great experience for our fans. It gives us and them something to really look forward to in the New Year.”
A slight dig from Bjelland?
Effectively, what Bjelland is saying here is that he’s watched Celtic and hasn’t been overly impressed. If he was he wouldn’t be talking about having a “big chance”. The way he’s worded some of these comments is interesting.
However, that’s not to be complacent on our part. Copenhagen qualified on merit, and we know from experience how difficult it can be to reach this stage of the competition.
You can perhaps see why Bjelland feels Celtic are a good draw when you look at some of the other teams they could’ve faced. Ajax, RB Salzburg, and Inter Milan all could’ve been on the cards for the Danish side. Considering we haven’t managed to qualify beyond the last-32 over the last decade, you can understand why they’re hopeful.
Yet it’s difficult to shake the image of how easily Rangers sent Midtjylland out of the competition. The same Midtjylland who sit four points clear of Copenhagen at the top of the Danish Super League. We know, just by looking at both squads, that we have the more accomplished team.
Copenhagen, however, don’t have much of a history in the competition to be proud of either. They failed to beat Dynamo Kyiv or Malmo over four games and have only once qualified for the last-16. They effectively qualified this year from the groups thanks to three draws and two wins against Lugano.
It’s probably fair to say that both sides are confident ahead of facing the other. The fact we both could’ve ended up with harder draws no doubt plays a big part. But perhaps Bjelland could do with watching a few more of our European matches in order to give him a clearer view of what we’re all about this season.