Manuel Pellegrini warns Spanish press against writing off Celtic
Real Betis manager Manuel Pellegrini has warned the Spanish press against writing off Celtic in their fight for Europa League last-32 qualification.
Betis and Leverkusen, who will face each other tomorrow night, come into matchday 3 with 6 points out of 6. The early pacesetters, therefore, are expected to see the job through and qualify for the latter stages.
Celtic, however, finally got off the mark with a 2-0 win over Ferencvaros yesterday. It was a huge 3 points for the club both in terms of morale and potential qualification hopes. And it will mean whoever loses between Betis and Leverkusen will need to watch over their shoulder moving forward.
That’s clearly something Pellegrini was keen to stress to the Spanish media in the build-up to his team’s clash against the Bundesliga heavyweights.
As quoted by Dario de Sevilla, Pellegrini said: “We will have to play a very good game to score the three points. It is not a decisive game. Celtic can still get on top (of the group). I hope we add the three points and that is what we are going to try to do from the first minute.
“These two games are not going to be final either because after tomorrow there are nine more points to play. The important thing is to try to win tomorrow. We are not focusing on being first in the group, but on winning tomorrow.
“Although it is an important game, it will not be decisive. You have to consider Celtic. Find a way to win tomorrow now, and we will see later how the group is solved.”
Celtic still have much to prove despite Ferencvaros success
Yesterday was big for the football club. We needed to prove so much against Ferencvaros. That we’ve improved on last year and that we had overcome our recent blip only make up for some of the proving we had to do.
In terms of showing that we were a genuine threat in this group, it was massive. Look at the trouble Bayer Leverkusen had in putting Ferencvaros away on matchday 1. Real Betis took until the final 15 minutes before they would wheel away from them too.
Sure, we showed our attacking threat in our opening game against Betis. We managed to find the back of the net on 3 occasions and could’ve had a couple more. But in terms of putting in a complete performance? That’s what we got against Ferencvaros.
Leverkusen and Betis will both undeniably have been watching our game yesterday. And they’ll have been impressed too.
A bigger test will follow when we take the trip to Hungary and try to bag a big away result in the group. Another 3 points there and the team who comes out worse from the Leverkusen-Betis double-header will start to feel a touch anxious.
It’ll be interesting to see how tomorrow night goes. But from a Celtic perspective, it’s important we continue to take things one game at a time.