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Unbeaten run raises AaB expectations

With confidence sky-high after an eight-match unbeaten run, coach Allan Kuhn is confident that Aalborg FC have what it takes to defeat Celtic FC – especially if they perform as they did against Villarreal CF on Matchday 4.

AaB players celebrate one of two home goals against Villarreal
AaB players celebrate one of two home goals against Villarreal ©Getty Images

Having presided over an eight-match unbeaten run since his appointment as Aalborg BK coach last month, Allan Kuhn had the confidence to declare on the eve of Matchday 5 that his players would definitely score when they face Celtic FC in Group E.

Excellent run
The Danish champions have won four and drawn four since Kuhn replaced Bruce Rioch, a sequence which has seen them climb to seventh in the Superligaen, progress to the Danish Cup semi-finals and twice come from behind to secure a 2-2 draw at home to Villarreal CF last time out. Kuhn does not see any reason why this good form should end, especially against a side beaten on their last ten away trips in the UEFA Champions League, a side who have kept just one clean sheet in the competition this season – in the drawn reverse fixture in Glasgow on Matchday 1.

'Really big match'
"Celtic are a strong team but they do concede goals," said the 40-year-old. "I feel sure we will score against them and, if we play like we did against Villarreal, then we have a good chance of winning. It is always important to score the first goal and if you do that in the Champions League, it gives the players a lot of confidence. That will be important on Tuesday because it's a really big match for both teams."

Possible progress
Victory for either side would guarantee third spot in the section and a place in the UEFA Cup, as well as maintaining a slim chance of progressing to the last 16 providing the Villarreal-Manchester United FC match is not drawn. Confident as he is, Kuhn will be aware that AaB have conceded eleven goals in the group stage – more than any other team – and that their opponents are also in form. Celtic have lost just once in the league this term, and joined the Scandinavian side on two points by drawing 1-1 against United on Matchday 4; the holders needing a late Ryan Giggs goal to grab a point.

Return of Samaras
Celtic's hopes of securing a first away UEFA Champions League victory at the 20th attempt have been boosted by the return of Georgios Samaras from a knee injury and, possibly, influential winger Aiden McGeady after a calf strain. "The return of George is great; he has a presence and can get goals," said manager Gordon Strachan. "It's also good to get Aiden back. Games in the Champions League are often won with terrific bits of skills and he has that."

Celtic are still without a number of first-team players due to injury, including Massimo Donati, Marc Crosas and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. "We've had a few injuries over the last couple of months and we've dealt with it all admirably," added Strachan. "Hopefully, we can do the same again and put out a team that can cause Aalborg problems." The home side will be missing defender Michael Beauchamp, ruled out for the rest of the year with a knee problem, but Anders Due could recover in time from an ankle knock to play.