Stefan Johansen eyeing Champions League group stage with Celtic

Stefan Johansen is confident that Celtic can qualify for the Champions League group stage under the guidance of Ronny Deila.

Celtic midfielder Stefan Johansen has told the Glasgow Evening Times that the Bhoys can 'definitely' qualify for the Champions League group stages.

Despite having two cracks at qualification last season, Celtic failed to make it into the competition proper, but Johansen thinks that now Ronny Deila knows the players better, he will be able to prepare them more comprehensively over the summer.

Champions League qualification is important for Celtic because it gives the players a chance to compete against Europe’s elite, whilst providing the club with funds to invest in the squad.

Johansen rightly points out that qualifying for the group stage is the biggest challenge of their season, and with it coming so early in the campaign, the Bhoys have to be ready to go from the off, and forget the mistakes they made last time round.

He said: "I definitely think we can qualify for the group stages of the competition.

"I already know how difficult that is. It is the biggest challenge of our season.

"But I think we will be prepared for it this summer. It is different because the manager has had the chance to properly get to know the players.

"Over the past six months we feel as though we have improved a lot and the performances have got better. We were unlucky against Inter Milan in the knockout stages of the Europa League but I think we learned a lot of lessons in those games.”

Johansen also reserved praise for Deila – who he knows well from their time together in Norway – and he thinks that he is the man to guide Celtic forward despite his difficult start to life as manager.

Deila has a lot to do between now and the start of next season as he will lose John Guidetti and Jason Denayer, with both men set to see loan agreements with Manchester City come to an end, and he will also have a fight on his hands to keep Virgil van Dijk at the club.

The striking options also need to be strengthened before the start of the campaign, so securing new recruits quickly will be at the top of the Norwegian’s wish list.

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