Jozo Simunovic ready for Champions League debut as defender plays in Celtic clean sheet against Motherwell 

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Jozo Simunovic insists Celtic will be fearless in pursuit of a pivotal win over Borussia Monchengladbach as he declared himself ready for a Champions League debut.

The Croatian centre-back helped his side warm up for Wednesday night’s showdown with a clean sheet in the 2-0 weekend win over Motherwell.

Highly rated by manager Brendan Rodgers, Simunovic is now in line for his first group stage appearance following an eight-month injury absence and an aborted move to Torino.

Jozo Simunovic played in Celtic's comfortable win over Motherwell  keeping a clean sheet

Jozo Simunovic played in Celtic’s comfortable win over Motherwell  keeping a clean sheet

Simunovic clears the danger during a Motherwell attack and he will be fit for midweek

Simunovic clears the danger during a Motherwell attack and he will be fit for midweek

Victory for Celtic in front of a sell-out crowd would place them firmly in the driving seat to earn European football beyond Christmas.

And Simunovic expects to see another front-foot performance to match the Parkhead atmosphere after last month’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Manchester City.

‘Will Borussia be scared? I haven’t even thought about them,’ said the 22-year-old. ‘I just think about our team and the Celtic fans.

‘What I can say is that we are not afraid of anybody, especially at home. We believe in ourselves and we can’t wait for the start of the match.

The Croatian defender is not fearful of Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League

The Croatian defender is not fearful of Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers will hope a sell-out crowd will help spur his side to victory

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers will hope a sell-out crowd will help spur his side to victory

‘I’m ready to play against Borussia, of course I am.

‘It’s been fantastic working under the manager. We are getting on very well but everybody is enjoying it.

‘I am fit and ready to play the most important thing is that we are all ready and that we are going to give 150 per cent.’

While Celtic approach the first of a double-header against Borussia in ebullient mood, their Bundesliga opponents have problems to confront.

They missed two penalties in a disappointing home goalless draw against struggling Hamburg on Saturday and are expected to be without three key strikers – Raffael, Thorgan Hazard and Josip Drmic – for the game in Glasgow.

‘You got the feeling that we could have played for two years and not scored a goal,’ admitted Borussia midfielder Tobias Strobl.

Rodgers is targeting competitive Champions League football after Christmas at Celtic Park

Rodgers is targeting competitive Champions League football after Christmas at Celtic Park

Rodgers noted the importance of home matches, specifically the atmosphere created by fans

Rodgers noted the importance of home matches, specifically the atmosphere created by fans

CELTIC’S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FIXTURES 

October 19 vs Monchengladbach (H)

November 1 vs Monchengladbach (A)

November 23 vs Barcelona (H)

December 6 vs Manchester City (A) 

‘We are missing big players so obviously that is not ideal.

‘But it can’t happen like against Hamburg again. We actually played well, we controlled the match for a long time but we just lacked the composure when it came to putting the ball in the net.

‘When you go to Champions League level you have to take your chances so against Celtic we will have to be ruthless.

‘Injuries happen in football and if these strikers do not play then it is up to other people to score goals for the team. That is the responsibility of everyone, not just the strikers.’

Celtic forward Moussa Dembele will be at the heart of his side's attempts to progress 

Celtic forward Moussa Dembele will be at the heart of his side’s attempts to progress 

Strobl now wants his side to try and silence the Parkhead crowd as quickly as possible.

‘I am looking forward to going to Celtic Park because everyone has told me about the atmosphere there,’ the 26-year-old added.

‘Because of what I heard I went and looked at it on YouTube when the draw was made.

‘And I could see they were definitely not exaggerating because the stadium is full and the noise from the supporters sounds incredible.

Celtic players celebrate with Sinclair (second left) after taking the lead against Motherwell

Celtic players celebrate with Sinclair (second left) after taking the lead against Motherwell

‘But if we can start the match well and maybe stop their noise, then it might work in our favour too.

‘I was a little bit surprised that Celtic got a draw with Manchester City because you would expect that they would be on a different level.

‘Celtic and ourselves are fighting to make sure one of us is in the Europa League after Christmas. So this week will be very important. If one team can win on Wednesday then they will be favourites to get through.’

 

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