Celtic manager Gordon Strachan has called on his flair players to make the difference against Danish side Aalborg in their Champions League Group E opener at Parkhead tonight. Strachan is adamant it is moments of "magic" which often separates sides in European football's premier club competition.
The Celtic manager will look to Shunsuke Nakamura, Shaun Maloney and Aiden McGeady to make the same sort of impact that Barcelona's Lionel Messi did when he starred in the Catalan side's victory at Celtic Park in the last-16 stage last season, scoring twice in the 3-2 win in Glasgow.
Strachan, who refused to be drawn on the possibility of persuading Nakamura to make a u-turn on the Japan international's reported desire to leave Celtic in January, said: "Take away persuading him [Nakamura] to stay because that's a different conversation for a different time.
"But Nakamura, McGeady, Maloney and people like that have proved that we need these kind of players to be big and perform one or two individual pieces of magic on European nights, because most European ties are decided by magical pieces of football from top players.
"If you look at Barcelona last season, Lionel Messi decided what the the tie was going to be, he decided he was going to score goals and beat people at will. So hopefully, again, good players will decide the games and hopefully our good players will play well."
Strachan played down the fact that his side are strong favourites to beat the Danes who are struggling in their domestic league.
"Aalborg will think that because they are playing against the third seeds in us, that it's probably their best chance of getting an away win. So I'm sure both sides will be positive and try to get a victory."
Celtic squad (provisional): Boruc, Wilson, Caldwell, McManus, Hinkel, Naylor, Robson, Crosas, Nakamura, Hartley, S Brown, Maloney, Vennegoor of Hesselink, Samaras, McDonald, Sheridan, M Brown, McGeady, Loovens, Donati, Caddis.
Aalborg's player to watch
The centre-forward had a prolific goalscoring record for Danish youth national teams. The 24-year-old has scored two goals so far this season in the Danish league.Reuse content