AIK Stockholm boss Norling aims to harness home advantage against Celtic

Norling’s men must find a way to crack open Neil Lennon’s backline or they will find themselves out of Europe.

By Press Association Published: 28 August 2019 - 3.26pm

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AIK Stockholm boss Rikard Norling claims he has nothing to gain by reviewing how Romanians Cluj were able to rip Celtic’s defence apart four times.

The Hoops were dumped out of the Champions League by Dan Pretrescu’s team after slumping to a 4-3 defeat at home.

But the Swedes were unable to match that feat last week as they suffered a 2-0 defeat at Celtic Park in the first leg of their Europa League play-off.

Now Norling’s men must find a way to crack open Neil Lennon’s backline or they will find themselves out of Europe.

But the AIK manager says he will learn more about the Scottish champions’ deficiencies in defence by watching his team’s set back last week than by replaying Cluj’s Glasgow triumph.

Asked at his pre-match press conference, which was broadcast on Facebook, if he had seen weaknesses in Celtic that will allow his team to turn the tie around, he said: “If I said no to that it would be terrible. There is always something that you think that you can use.

“We’ve analysed that game thoroughly and we have some ideas how to attack this time.

“We can’t be naïve because we’re facing a very good side with very good individual skills, especially in the transitions. We need to be clever.

“Cluj scored four goals in Glasgow and we didn’t. But we’re not playing the same way and I don’t think I have anything to get from their game against Cluj at all.

“It’s all about us. Celtic did not play Cluj here at the Friends Arena. They are playing us here on our own pitch.

“It’s important that it is on our home pitch and that gives us an advantage. How big an advantage will be shown by the result.

“But there is definitely power here to start from.”

Skipper Henok Goitom was part of the last AIK side to reach the group stages of a European competition in 2012.

And he is using those memories to fire up his team.

“We were in the Europa League group stage seven years ago and I’ve told the squad how magical it is for a club like AIK to reach that far,” said the striker.

“We don’t go to the Europa League or the Champions League too often. But when you do you can actually change your career dramatically.

“The way the scenario is with Celtic, there is nothing left for us but to go all in and do our best.

“Of course we need to do it with smartness and a lot of passion too.

“But if we can go to the group stages I think it will changes things dramatically for the players and the club. There is a lot at stake and our future would be much brighter if we can qualify.

“There’s more opportunity than pressure for us right now. We have nothing to lose. I can see two scenarios – either Celtic will be superior or it will be a magical night for us.”