Malmo manager Age Hareide has, in comments carried by Herald Scotland, added further tension to an already frosty relationship with Celtic after speaking disparagingly about the team's fitness and insisting that all Molde need to do to beat the Scottish champions is to ‘run’.
Hareide masterminded Malmo’s progression to the Champions League at the expense of Celtic and feels that the fitness levels of the Glasgow team is their weakness, as they prepare to compete with Ajax, Molde and Fenerbache in the Europa League.
“My advice to Molde against Celtic is to run…We ran a total of six kilometres more than Celtic in the home match. Molde must do this and work so hard. That's the important key to beating Celtic,” he said.
“Molde have a good opportunity to get some wins in the Europa League… I don't think any of the teams in the group will enjoy playing on an artificial pitch in the freezing rain of winter in Molde.”
Ronny Deila’s preferred system is one of high intensity, with his assortment of pacey attackers charged with pressing from the front, and suggestions that they lack fitness will not go down too well at Parkhead.
Celtic’s failure to progress through Europe’s premier club competition was more down to tactical naivety and game-management than fitness issues.
The Hoops were in the driving seat at 3-1 and would have had every chance of getting through the tie if they had taken that scoreline to Sweden.
As it transpired, Malmo’s late goal reduced the deficit to just one and brought about a complete shift in momentum.
Celtic’s Champions League dream is over but their focus must now be on a solid Europa League campaign, and Hareide’s words will just serve as added incentive to make sure they achieve that.