Dan Petrescu confirms Emmanuel Culio to miss Celtic clash

By David Walton

August 1, 2019

CFR Cluj manager Dan Petrescu has confirmed that Emmanuel Culio looks set to miss the Celtic clash next week.

Cluj host the Hoops in the first leg of our third qualifying round tie on Wednesday night. It’s going to be an intriguing clash for both teams, and will be a good measuring stick to see if Celtic are group-stage quality.

But yesterday, the Scottish Sun reported that Culio could indeed miss the first leg next week. The Cluj man made 32 appearances for his side last season, and nabbed a crucial goal in Tel-Aviv on Tuesday too.

Emmanuel Culio (left) will be a big loss according to Dan Petrescu (Nico Casamassima/AFP/Getty Images)

And Petrescu has also confirmed the theory that he’ll be missing next week. Speaking to bzb, he labeled Culio as the best player in Cluj’s history.

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“Culio was certainly the best on the field (against Maccabi). No need to repeat myself, Culio is the best player in CFR history, that’s my opinion and I keep it.

“The recovery will be very difficult. I’m trying to make a championship team and a Champions League team. Culio does not think he will be able to play in the match with Celtic, which is an extraordinary loss.”

Culio’s importance to the side proved by Petrescu comments

The words from Petrescu are interesting here. We’re not going to pretend we know how much Culio’s absence will affect their game-plan. But it’s clear he’s the man that makes them tick, and Petrescu clearly values him highly.

It sounds as if this could be a major boost for Celtic ahead of the trip to Romania. Not having their main man could allow us to assert more authority on the game than we perhaps would’ve done had Culio been fit.

Dan Petrescu will be disappointed with the loss of Culio (VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Petrescu still has plenty of midfield options at his disposal of course. It remains to be seen if they’re high-quality enough to compete with Neil Lennon’s duo of Scott Brown and Callum McGregor.

Outside of that, there doesn’t appear to be any further injury concerns coming out of the Cluj camp. Director of Football Bogdan Mara claimed that he hopes striker George Tucudean will be 100% fit for the Celtic clash (Digi Sport). He came on as a second-half sub against Maccabi, so there could potentially be question marks there, but it’s unlikely.

Neil Lennon won’t be paying too much attention to Culio’s absence (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Culio appears to be the big miss, however. He’s clearly rated highly in Romania, and it could make Celtic’s job slightly easier on Wednesday night.

Lennon won’t take much notice of his absence, of course. He’ll be preparing as normal ahead of what’s going to be a difficult trip next week. But with a bit of luck, the loss of Culio hits Cluj hard.