Football: Nicholas. Celtic will get the job done

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Charlie Nicholas says he would be ‘amazed’ if Celtic now fail to reach the Champions League group stages.
Charlie Nicholas says he would be “amazed” if Celtic didn’t reach the Champions League group stages after their 1-1 first leg draw at Maribor.
Celtic opened the scoring in the play-off after just five minutes, when Callum McGregor poked the ball into an empty net after some persistent play from Jo Inge Berget on the left-flank.
But less than 10 minutes later, the Slovenian side levelled the scores through a tidy Damjan Bohar finish. The pair will meet again next Tuesday at Celtic Park and Sky Sports expert Charlie Nicholas said would be surprised if his former club didn’t reach the coveted group stages with an away goal to their advantage, but insists it will be a challenge.
He told the Champions League Goals show: “I’d be amazed if Celtic don’t go through from this second leg next week – I’m not saying it’s a canter, it’s a test.
“I know there’s a still a danger because Celtic defensively are still vulnerable. We speak about Celtic’s deficiencies defensively but so have Maribor. They’re fairly static, they’re not blessed with great pace either. I’d expect, if Celtic score first next week, they could win two or three nil.
“What he (manager Ronnie Deila) got right, and he understood from the previous Warsaw game, was that he didn’t have to go and squeeze the game,” added Nicholas, who played more than150 times for Celtic.
“He talks about a squeezing game, high energy and high up the pitch – but you don’t need to do that, this is a counter-attacking team, he knew that before kick-off, they’ve watched the videos. So he sat with the holding midfield players.”
The Scottish Premiership champions are now one game away from qualification to the group stages. Celtic only find themselves in this position after being reinstated in the competition when Polish side Legia Warsaw, who comprehensively beat Ronnie Delia’s side 6-1 on aggregate in the previous round, were disqualified for fielding an ineligible player. 
And Nicholas believes the young Norwegian manager, who took over in June this year, deserves praise for the way he approached the game, but will need to be prepared for the home leg.
“Compliments to the manager for that, because you’re as well going cautious and getting some sort of a result to go back and get the job done in the second leg. But as before, when you go and chase a game, like when they played at Murrayfield [against Legia Warsaw], mistakes are there, you take too much of a gamble and they’re punished.
“They know what they’re facing – it’s a counter-attacking team. I don’t think they’re [Maribor] blessed with great pace. They’ve got good energy and decent passers in midfield but Celtic’s own enemy is themselves.
“They need to be patient, take their time. You break them down and get the first goal – though that doesn’t change it dramatically – Celtic probably need two goals to be sure of going through, but I think overall  they’ll be looking at this and thinking, ‘We don’t need to squeeze it we can sit in. Are you good enough, have you got enough pace to hurt us?’ The answer to that is no.”

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