Celtic FC midfield player Stilian Petrov believes his side are ready to make history against FC Bayern München tonight in Glasgow.
Victory could take the Scottish club into the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League for the first time and end the German title-holders' bid at the group stage for the second season running - provided RSC Anderlecht do not beat Group A leaders Olympique Lyonnais. The stakes could not be higher, but speaking exclusively to uefa.com, Petrov said Celtic are in confident mood.
"If we beat Bayern, we know we have a big chance of qualifying for the next round," the 24-year-old said. "Having said that, Bayern will be coming here knowing they have to win to give themselves a chance of qualifying, which makes it a very interesting match.
I thought we were very unlucky not to take anything from the game in Munich, so we want to do better this time and win this one."
Celtic go into the tie boasting an incredible home record of 63 unbeaten matches in domestic and European competition stretching back two years and more. In contrast, Celtic's away form in Europe's top club tournament has been poor. Martin O'Neill's side have failed to pick up a single point in their two Champions League campaigns - and lost 2-1 at Bayern in September despite having led for much of the game.
"It has been really disappointing not to pick up anything away from home," Petrov said. "The boys are still talking about it and wondering how we can change it. The concentration in the away game against Bayern was really high, but we dropped that concentration in the last 15 minutes and got punished."
The Bulgarian international added: "
It is different at Celtic Park. There is something special here. At home we are more motivated - the crowd is behind you, the atmosphere is great and the adrenalin is up all the time. That is a big factor in our unbeaten run at Celtic Park and we hope to continue that against Bayern." However, Petrov knows they will have to deal with Michael Ballack and the man who scored twice in their Matchday 1 encounter, Roy Makaay.
"Bayern have a team of stars, but Ballack is one of their key players," said Petrov. "Not only can he make goals, he can score them as well. If we can stop him, we can stop the supply to Makaay, who is another player in good form." Yet Petrov would rather concentrate on the dangers that Celtic are likely to pose the Germans at the other end and says the emergence of 22-year-old Liam Miller has added another dimension to their play.
"All the young boys want a chance and Liam has taken his with both hands," he said. "He is scoring goals and playing so well that it is very difficult for the manager to take him out of the team. When you add Liam to the goal threat posed by [John] Hartson, [Chris] Sutton and [Henrik] Larsson, we have players who can score in any minute of the game."
'It would mean so much'
With progress so tantalisingly close, Petrov added: "It would mean so much to the players and everyone connected with the club to make it into the next phase of the Champions League. It would show everyone the team is progressing after getting to the final of the UEFA Cup last season."
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