Celtic FC will be looking to maintain their remarkable recent home record in the UEFA Champions League when they begin their Group E campaign against Aalborg BK, back in the competition proper after 13 years.
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Celtic FC will be looking to maintain their remarkable recent home record in the UEFA Champions League when they begin their Group E campaign against Aalborg BK, who are back in the competition proper after a 13-year absence.
• The Scottish champions reached the last 16 in both 2006/07 and 2007/08 on the back of their faultless form at 'Fortress Celtic Park'. In both seasons they collected maximum points from their fixtures in Glasgow – while losing each and every away game – so Gordon Strachan's side will not need telling the importance of making home advantage count against AaB.
• AaB will be eager to make a sure-footed start to their first group-stage campaign and they should have a useful guide in their coach, Bruce Rioch, who, though born in England, played 24 times for Scotland in the 1970s.
• Denmark's reigning champions, AaB advanced from the qualifying rounds to the group stage. The Danish side lost to FC Dynamo Kyiv in the third qualifying round in both 1995/96 – although they advanced to the group stage after the Ukrainian champions were expelled from the competition – and 1999/00. This time, they progressed comfortably after handsome aggregate victories against FK Modriča and FBK Kaunas.
• Rioch's men secured a 5-0 win against Modriča in the first leg of their second qualifying round tie, Andreas Johansson (15), Michael Jakobsen (41), Simon Bræmer (44), Anders Due (53) and Caca (89) all finding the net. Due and Kasper Risgård then struck in a 2-1 second-leg victory in Bosnia-Herzegovina that completed a 7-1 aggregate success.
• AaB then overcame FBK Kaunas, conquerors of Celtic's great rivals Rangers FC in the previous stage, in the third qualifying round. Goals from Caca (71) and Jeppe Curth (86) earned a 2-0 first-leg lead and they struck late again in Lithuania, where a Risgård double (75, 90+1) extended the aggregate margin to 4-0.
• The Danish side will know to expect a more testing assignment in Glasgow, however, where Celtic have recorded 12 victories in 17 home games over the course of their five previous campaigns in the UEFA Champions League.
• For the second year running last season, Gordon Strachan's team recorded three wins at home in the group stage – beating AC Milan, SL Benfica and FC Shakhtar Donetsk – but lost to the same opponents on their travels. They then suffered home-and-away defeats by FC Barcelona as they succumbed 4-2 on aggregate in the first knockout round.
• For AaB's part, they defeated HJK Helsinki and UC Sampdoria to reach the group stage of the UEFA Cup last term, where they finished fourth in their section with a record of W1 D1 L2.
• On their travels in 2007/08, they earned a notable 2-2 draw at Sampdoria and won 3-1 at Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC. They also gave Tottenham Hotspur FC a fright after taking a 2-0 half-time lead in London before eventually succumbing 3-2.
• Celtic's overall record against Danish opposition is good with seven wins and one draw from ten previous meetings. Moreover, they have not conceded a single goal at home to Danish visitors in five previous contests.
• FC København were the last team from Denmark to visit Celtic Park for a UEFA Champions League group-stage match in September 2006, which was settled by Kenny Miller's first-half penalty.
• AaB have never faced a Scottish team before, but their coach Rioch steered another Danish club, Odense BK, past Edinburgh side Hibernian FC in the third round of the 2006 UEFA Intertoto Cup. OB won 1-0 in Denmark and progressed to the UEFA Cup on the away goals rule following a 2-1 second-leg loss.
• Strachan and Rioch have met once before in opposing dugouts, in an English FA Cup third-round tie between the former's Coventry City FC side and Norwich City FC, then managed by Rioch, in December 1999. Strachan went home happy that day after Coventry won 3-1 at Norwich's Carrow Road.
• Rioch never played with Strachan in the Scotland national side as he had been retired from international football for two years when the Celtic manager made his debut for his country in 1980.
• Celtic became the first British champions of Europe when they won the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1967.
• The other opening Group E games pits Manchester United FC against Villarreal CF.