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Toljan: Valencia will be tough but we're focused on winning

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CELTIC return to European action tomorrow (Thursday), when they welcome Spanish side Valencia to Paradise in the last 32 knockout round of the UEFA Europa League.

Manager Brendan Rodgers is confident the Hoops’ impressive 2-1 group-stage win over RB Leipzig will inspire his players against the La Liga side, and new Bhoy Jeremy Toljan expects a different game against what he’s experienced so far in Glasgow.

Despite the challenge Valencia might pose, the 24-year-old full-back said Celtic will approach the match with the same attacking mindset they so comfortably deploy domestically.  

“I like Spanish football,” said Toljan, speaking exclusively to this week’s Celtic View. “I enjoy watching it but I know it’s hard to play against Spanish teams. They are good in possession, don’t lose many balls and tend to have good quality players in the team. We have good-quality players in our team as well, though. I think it’ll be a tough game but we have a good chance, especially at home.

“I’ve watched some Valencia games so I know the team in generally. They’re a good side and have been improving in recent weeks. They play good football and will make a difficult game.”

The tie is likely to be one of Celtic’s most challenging encounters this season, and Toljan admitted focus at both ends of the pitch will be of paramount importance both at home and at the Mestalla next week.

The full-back described European football as the best of occasions for any footballer, and cannot wait to experience Celtic Park, and the backing of the Paradise faithful, in the UEFA Europa League.

He added: “Knockout rounds over two legs changes the game a lot. At home you have to be worried about conceding a goal. We’ll need to be really focused defensively to ensure we don’t concede at home. We’ll have to stay compact and solid at the back.

“We might not play exactly like we do in the league in terms of dominating possession but we’ll still be attacking them for 90 minutes because that’s the way this team likes to play. We’ve scored goals from four different goalscorers in the two games I’ve been here so when we’re in attack I’m confident we can get the goals.”

Read our full and exclusive interview with Jeremy Toljan in this week’s Celtic View – on sale now.

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