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Preview: Maribor v Celtic

"Those who think Maribor are favourites are wrong," said coach Ante Šimundža as they prepare for a Celtic FC side who can "beat anybody" according to Ronny Deila.

Celtic manager Ronny Deila has plenty to ponder
Celtic manager Ronny Deila has plenty to ponder ©Getty Images

• Maribor coach Ante Šimundža was a player when they qualified 15 years ago
• Šimundža said it was "utopian" to think of visitors Celtic as outsiders in the tie
• Maribor are coming off a weekend loss, Celtic a convincing 6-0 victory
• Celtic have travelled without several key players, including captain Scott Brown
• Celtic manager Ronny Deila: "If we play our way we can beat anybody"

Possible lineups
Maribor: Handanovič; Stojanovič, Rajčevič, Šuler, Viler; Vršič, Derviševič, Filipović, Bohar; Ibraimi, Tavares.
• Out: none

Celtic: Gordon; Lustig, Denayer, Van Dijk, Izaguirre; McGregor, Johansen, Mulgrew, Berget; Commons; Stokes.
• Out: James Forrest (hamstring), Adam Matthews (calf), Scott Brown (hamstring)

Ante Šimundža, Maribor coach
We've been preparing for this very important match in our usual way. Fortunately we have no injuries, we are 100% motivated and focused.

We know very well the weaknesses and strengths of our visitors from Glasgow. With their new coach they play a more Scandinavian game with a lot of fast running and with very dynamic players all around the pitch. The Celtic coach is young and new, meaning his ideas are maybe not so visible yet. We are ready for their aggressive style. But first we have to impose our style of play on them. It is true that Celtic lost 6-1 to Legia over two legs but they had a lot of bad luck and missed a lot of chances. This result must not influence our players.

In 1999 when Maribor earned their first and last qualification for the Champions League group stage, I was still a player here. For me it is so very difficult to compare these two seasons as I'm now the coach with a much different role in the club. Of course we want to progress – the opportunity is great and the players are prepared for this. We are guaranteed European football until December, but the Champions League is something special. We will do everything to grab it.

We must think about the away game too because this is only the first half. The decider will be in Glasgow. And I have to say once again: those who think Maribor are favourites are wrong – it would be very utopian to think of a team like Celtic as outsiders.

Ronny Deila talks to Kris Commons
Ronny Deila talks to Kris Commons©Getty Images

Ronny Deila, Celtic manager
We came here for a good result and I think it will be close. However, it's only 90 minutes for this match here and we still have to play a week later in Glasgow. We have two difficult matches behind us now and I have gathered some very important experiences and information. The players are fitter and sharper, so I expect a much better performance in Maribor than against Legia several weeks ago.

Maribor are a well-organised club, they look very good on the pitch and are very strong at counterattacking. Every Champions League play-off is different, but if we play our way we can beat anybody. We will try to use this opportunity to qualify for the group stage.

This is a big challenge for both clubs and it is also a big game for me personally as I have never been to the Champions League before. It's an exciting time for me, but if we ultimately can't beat Maribor then we don't deserve the Champions League.

Weekend results
NK Celje 3-1 Maribor (Klemenčič 3, Omoregie 25, Bajde 53; Vrhovec og 84)
Celtic 6-1 Dundee United FC (Denayer 4, Commons 27, Johansen 34, Stokes 54, Berget 62 90+1; Rankin 71)

Form guide (all competitions)
Maribor: LWWDWW
Celtic: WWWLWW

Match fact
• How did Maribor fare when they took on Celtic's arch-rivals Rangers FC in the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round and the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League play-offs? Find out in our extensive match background.

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