Celtic will face Atletico Madrid, Lazio, and Feyenoord in Group E, in a somewhat surprising draw in comparison to previous Champions League seasons, where Celtic faced the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and Manchester City in the group stages.
Celtic centre-back Gustaf Lagerbielke spoke of the task facing Celtic against respected Champions League sides over six match days. He said: “It’s gonna be a tough challenge against all of them. Three teams that have a good home support, so I’m looking forward to playing here and the Celtic fans showing who has the best home support.”
Asked who he was most looking excited to face in Group E Lagerbielke reflected on Atletico Madrid’s recent success in the Champions League. He said: “Atletico Madrid because of their good recent history in the Champions League with getting into the final and being close to win it.
“You play football to play against the best and now I got a great opportunity to do so in the Champions League, so it’s gonna be a good challenge but I look forward to it.”
Lagerbielke emphasised that Celtic are not just in the Champions League to take part but to give everything they can and see where it takes the club. He said: “When you’re in a competition the goal is to always win it. But you can only take one game at a time so the first goal is gonna be to get through to the knockout stages. So, that’s our first goal. If we do everything we can, hopefully, we’ll get there. That’s our goal.”
“The Swedish international can’t wait to play at Celtic Park in a Champions League match. He said: “I’ve seen some clips on YouTube; it looks great. I got a little taste of it on Saturday, the atmosphere was crazy. So I can imagine how it is on European nights.”
Lagerbielke is also excited to play alongside Champions League winner Nat Phillips. He said: “Now, it feels like every day and every training session, we get to know each other better. We have a lot of new players and it’s feel there’s been a lot of improvements since I got here, for everyone getting to know each other, So, I think Nat will be a good addition to the squad.
“It’s going to be a great addition to the squad with his experience in the Champions League, getting far. I saw him in training today, and he looks like a really good player, so I think we have a good competitive squad with lots of good players.”
Lagerbielke who made his first team debut for Elfsborg against Feyenoord back in 2021 discussed how this will affect his mindset going into the two matches against the Eredivisie champions. He said: “I know how it is there around the locker room and the atmosphere, so hopefully I can be a bit more prepared than if I haven’t played them before. They have a great atmosphere there, so I’m looking forward to that game also.”
Speaking on the Champions League draw new signing Luis Palma said: I have been excited to play in the Champions League since I was a child. Every game in this group is going to be hard.”
Palma also emphasised how easy the decision to join Celtic. He said: “Several weeks ago I found out about Celtic’s interest without any doubt I wanted to come here.
“I’m here to help Celtic and do my best for the team. I will show my best strengths and skills.
“I spoke with the manager today. I know the position I can play to help this club. I will do my best and I’ll put in every effort to play for Celtic.”
Palma reiterated he is more than ready for Sunday’s Glasgow Derby at Ibrox. He said : “I’m very concentrated on the strengths and talents this team has got, and I’m completely focused on the game on Sunday. I’ll do my best to bring success to this club, especially during derbies; it’s very important.”
The Hoops has usually faced elite opposition through tough draws over the years, but this season’s draw is certainly not as intimidating as in previous Champions League campaigns.
The last time Celtic had a draw comparable to this year’s was back in 2012/13 when the Hoops finished second, qualifying for the last 16 in a group that included Barcelona, Benfica, and Spartak Moscow.
The full fixture schedule will be announced on Saturday, where it will be revealed who Celtic will face on each matchday. The Hoops are set to play six games against the likes of Atletico Madrid, Lazio, and Feyenoord.
Last year Celtic began their Champions League campaign against Real Madrid at Celtic Park, and also ended the group against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeau.