Celtic are looking to take one step closer to Champions League qualification on Tuesday night as they play their second-leg, third qualifying round tie against CFR Cluj.
James Forrest scored a vital away goal in Transylvania last week, resulting in Celtic only needing to keep a clean sheet to progress and face Slavia Prague in the play-off tie.
Despite a solid and strong performance from the visitors in Romania, the home side showed their own strengths and how they overcame Astana and Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Dan Petrescu’s side play very direct football and aim to get the ball to their powerful centre forwards and fast wingers as soon as possible. Unlike the Hoops, they didn’t pass the ball through the midfield too often, with their midfielders’ main goal to be to win the ball back and scrap for every 50/50.
Celtic supporters will feel their side already have one foot in the play-off round with last week’s outing proving the Hoops have much more quality within their squad to be troubled by Cluj.
But stranger things have happened in football and Celtic need to remain alert of the dangers their opponents can cause.
Their goalkeeper, Giedrius Arlauskis, is perhaps their hidden gem. Cluj supporters hold him in very high regard. He doesn’t concede too many goals, but that won’t trouble Celtic too much as scoring isn’t a necessity to qualify.
George Tucudean is Cluj’s main man but has been struggling with heart problems, however he did come on for the final 15 minutes in the first leg.
Cluj wouldn’t have got to this stage of the competition if they didn’t have players who can change games, and their is one man in particular who can do just that.
The 29-year-old central midfielder may not be CFR Cluj’s biggest out and out threat, that title would go to Billel Omrani, but he is perhaps their most influential.
The Croatian has a work ethic like none other and as mentioned, Cluj’s midfielders chase every loose ball and every 50/50 like their lives depend on it. With this energy, he has the ability and the skill to begin and control a counter attack, something which Celtic will need to be wary of all night.
Not only does Djokovic have the pace and work ethic, he has the height to trouble the Celtic defence at set pieces and has the skill to deliver an inch-perfect cross to an awaiting teammate.
To have any chance of progressing, Cluj need a bit of magic from a special player and Celtic will need to be wary of the midfielder to avoid any upsets.