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Anderlecht boss places squad on storm alert against Celtic

Anderlecht head coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck hardly needs great clairvoyant powers to see what’s coming his way at Celtic Park on Tuesday night.

Still, as even this proven miracle worker himself admits, spotting a storm on the horizon is one thing. Avoiding it quite another.

‘I can already predict what’s going to happen tomorrow,’ said Vanhaezebrouck, with a glint in his eye. ‘There will be noise as soon as we come on the pitch. The crowd will be behind them.

Anderlecht head coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck expects a huge crowd reaction on Tuesday

He expects Celtic to fly out of the starting blocks when they take the field in the tie

‘And they will fly like hell,' he said. 'The start will be devastating.'

He expects Celtic to fly out of the starting blocks when they take the field in the tie

‘And they will fly like hell. The start will be devastating. If we can survive and stay level, then maybe we stand a chance to do something.’

If points were awarded for ability to produce a colourful turn of phrase, Vanhaezebrouck would already have guided his boys safely into the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

Appointed at the start of October, by which time the damage had been done courtesy of Celtic’s 3-0 romp in Brussels, he knows that even a spot in the Europa League is the longest of long shots.

Speaking on arrival for the eve-of-match training session at Celtic Park last night, the former Gent boss made it pretty clear that even perfection from his players might not be enough to get a victory by three clear goals.

Asked outright if he believed, in his heart, that Anderlecht stand a chance, Vanhaezebrouck smiled as he declared: ‘I have a big heart. So I hope.

Vanhaezebrouck led his side onto Celtic Park to train on the eve of their Champions League tie

Vanhaezebrouck led his side onto Celtic Park to train on the eve of their Champions League tie

The Belgian side were put through their paces on a cold Monday night in Glasgow

The Belgian side were put through their paces on a cold Monday night in Glasgow

Anderlecht's forward Lukasz Teodorczyk puts in the hard yards

As does defender Olivier Deschacht

Anderlecht’s forward Lukasz Teodorczyk and defender Olivier Deschacht train on Monday

‘But I am a realist. I know it’s going to be very difficult. We can dream but also remain realistic.

‘We must be efficient and effective. There is no secret to it. You also need a bit of luck because it will be difficult. You score goals and don’t lose goals. That’s the big secret.

‘If you make the same mistakes (as in Brussels), it is impossible to do anything.

‘We have to try to get something. That would already be us doing really well to get something at Celtic.

‘But to overcome the three-goal difference to continue, everything has to be perfect – and we also need all the luck in the world.

‘So the chances are small. But it’s not our main goal.

‘I can’t go and tell the team we need to win by three goals. We have to be realistic. Aim for a win, a draw even would be a good result.’

Celtic's Champions League opponents go through some passing drills ahead of the game

Celtic’s Champions League opponents go through some passing drills ahead of the game

The visitors, who sit bottom of Champions League Group B, warm-up at Celtic Park 

The visitors, who sit bottom of Champions League Group B, warm-up at Celtic Park 

Anderlecht's Henry Onyekuru, who is on loan from Everton, appears in good spirits

Anderlecht’s Henry Onyekuru, who is on loan from Everton, appears in good spirits

The air of defeatism is surprising in a man whose own personal reputation is built on turning around the least promising of situations. Doing the impossible is kind of his thing.

Yet a degree of perspective probably comes with the knowledge that, as a club, Anderlecht haven’t won an away fixture in the Champions League since 2005. Either he’s trying to lull Celtic into an unlikely state of complacency. Or he is just stating the blooming obvious.

Batting aside suggestions that his team should look to counter Celtic’s anticipated opening with some attacking vim of their own, he declared: ‘It’s not important to score very quickly, not important at all.

Leander Dendoncker looks on as he and his team-mates brave the cold in Glasgow

Leander Dendoncker looks on as he and his team-mates brave the cold in Glasgow

Anderlecht's Algerian midfielder Sofiane Hanni gets to grips with the Celtic Park pitch

Anderlecht’s Algerian midfielder Sofiane Hanni gets to grips with the Celtic Park pitch

‘For us, the ultimate thing is to score three times more than Celtic. The timing of the first goal isn’t important at all.

‘You can say we’re going to try to score in the first five minutes if you like – but then you lose a goal in the first five minutes.

‘I’ve seen Celtic. They could have beaten Bayern. They had a chance to beat them. So did we. When you play against PSG, you can’t compare to that team.

‘But Celtic are still a strong team at home. Even though they won 3-0 at our place, they’re much stronger at home.

Teodorczyk shows off his balance as he keeps the ball on his forehead during training

Teodorczyk shows off his balance as he keeps the ball on his forehead during training

Anderlecht put in their final preparations the night before their final Champions League game

Anderlecht put in their final preparations the night before their final Champions League game

‘So it’s a very difficult task for any team at our level to come here and take something.

‘I wasn’t there when we played Celtic. I think we play differently now. I don’t say better.

‘But this is an away game. If now we could play them in Brussels, I would say we have a good chance to win the game.

‘But in Glasgow it makes a big difference – to us and to Celtic.’

 



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