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Fenerbahce v Celtic: Draw for Pereira´s men would seal qualification

Fenerbahce will be without star striker Robin van Persie as they host Celtic needing a draw to qualify for the next round of the Europa League.

Vitor Pereira’s men are on the brink of qualification and one point would be enough to seal a place in the knockout stages, while Ronny Deila’s Celtic are already out of the competition after taking just two points from five Group H games. 

Only pride is at stake for Celtic after defeat to Ajax sealed their fate in their last Europa League fixture, while Fenerbahce won 2-0 at Molde to keep their hopes alive.

A thigh injury has ruled Van Persie out of the Celtic match but the Netherlands striker has only scored five times since signing for Fenerbahce in the summer. Denmark defender Simon Kjaer and Portugal winger Nani are also unavailable through suspension. 

Fenerbahce were on a run of four successive victories before drawing at Gaziantepspor on Sunday, a result that leaves the side third in the Turkish Super Lig after they missed the chance to go top. 

“The Celtic game is one of the most important of the season for us,” said Fenerbahce midfielder Mehmet Topal ahead of the club’s 200th UEFA club competition game.

“There’s a chance we could top the group if we beat them.”

Deila, whose Celtic have not won any of their last 10 games in the Europa League but are three points clear at the summit of the Scottish Premiership, said: “We are going to use this game to get more European experience.

“With good performances you get more confidence and that is what we hope to get from this match. Hopefully a good result too.

“We will see what we do with the players but we won’t change the whole team. We would never do that. We have a duty to other teams to fight for the points. You learn a lot about European football but also about your own team. 

“Everybody understands that we have to make improvements. It’s very clear to me what I need to improve for next season.

“You could say defending but it’s about individual improvements and improving as a team. We have to make the squad stronger and better. That is about developing the players who are here and adding some who can make us even stronger.”

Fenerbahce, semi-finalists in 2013, drew 2-2 at Celtic Park earlier in the competition with the Turkish side fighting back from two goals down to claim a point thanks to a brace from Fernandao and the Turks have not conceded in three Europa League games since their trip to Glasgow.

Tue 8 Dec, 2015
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