Organisation and precision are key words for Helsingborgs IF as they host Celtic FC in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off, with coach Åge Hareide noting "a good result would be anything from 0-0 up, as long as we don't concede".
The Swedish champions side lost 2-1 at league leaders IF Elfsborg at the weekend. They are without injured midfielder Mattias Lindström (thigh), and have further concerns over goalkeeper Pär Hansson (tonsillitis), Loret Sadiku (groin), Erik Wahlstedt (ankle), Erik Edman (calf) and Erlend Hanstveit (sciatica), but Christoffer Andersson still feels they can confound the Scottish champions.
"We need to focus on organisation," the 33-year-old defender explained. "That's an area where Swedish teams have a competitive advantage against other European teams, even though other sides may have stronger players. If we manage to take advantage of our organisation and be precise about it, we have a chance."
Hareide has seen Icelandic forward Alfred Finnbogason (sc Heerenveen) and midfielder Marcus Bergholtz (Östers IF) move on over the summer, and while he acknowledged the Hoops' strengths, he hoped that he could counter them. "Celtic have many strong points," explained the 58-year-old. "They are physical, robust, and they work hard.
They are used to having the ball, and if we allow them to play to their strengths, we will have problems, so the aim is to stop them from using their usual advantages.
"I think it's an advantage for us to play the first match at home," the former Norway coach added. "If it had been the other way around, and we would have played our second match at home after securing a good result in Glasgow, we would have been under a lot of pressure from the fans and the media. Tomorrow, a good result would be anything from 0-0 up, as long as we don't concede."
Celtic have quite an injury list to contend with themselves – with ten players including Anthony Stokes, Scott Brown and James Forrest sidelined – but they remain favourites. It is a tag Giorgos Samaras feels they can handle. "We know our strengths and weaknesses, so we have to play our own game," said the Greek forward. "We've had the same team for three years. Every month we're getting to know each other better, so now is the moment to reach the highest level."
Manager Neil Lennon may be eager to dial down the level of expectation, but he acknowledged what was at stake. "I don't know if I would say these two matches will define our season, but they are certainly significant games, and the players are very motivated," he said.
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.