John Hartson highlights two Valencia players Celtic must beware

John Hartson of Celtic celebrates scoring the second goal of the match to put his team through to the next round during the UEFA Cup Quarter-Final second leg match between Liverpool and...

Scottish Premiership champions Celtic are set to host La Liga powerhouses Valencia in the Europa League on Thursday.

John Hartson of Celtic celebrates scoring the second goal of the match to put his team through to the next round during the UEFA Cup Quarter-Final second leg match between Liverpool and...

John Hartson has named two players who Celtic must watch out for as they prepare to welcome Valencia to Parkhead in Thursday’s Europa League round of 32 clash.

Brendan Rodgers’ side finished second in their group behind Red Bull Salzburg and their punishment is a two-legged tie with Valencia, who are one of the strongest sides left in the competition despite a rather underwhelming season in La Liga.

 

Hartson was part of the Celtic side who were beaten on penalties by Valencia in the UEFA Cup in the 2001/02 campaign and, while Los Che are not quite the same force they were 18 years ago, he has pointed out that the Scottish Premiership champions cannot take their opponents lightly.

"While I don’t think they are currently anywhere near the level of the Valencia team we played, they are no mugs. They went two up at the Camp Nou recently against Barcelona before being pegged back, so it’s not as if they are in bad form despite their lowly league position at the minute,” Hartson told the Evening Times before identifying two who could cause Celtic problems.

Francis Coquelin of Valencia CF during the Spanish Copa del Rey  match between Real Betis Sevilla v Valencia at the Estadio Benito Villamarin on February 7, 2019 in Sevilla Spain

“They have the likes of Francis Coquelin and Kevin Gamiero, so they have some good players and they will provide a stern test for Celtic. I think we are the underdogs.”

Fans on British shores will remember defensive midfielder Coquelin from his time at Arsenal, the tough-tackling enforcer having established himself as a key member of Arsene Wenger’s starting XI during the 2015/16 season.

Speedy French striker Gameiro, meanwhile, has a fabulous record in the Europa League, winning the competition three times with Sevilla and scoring twice against Liverpool in the 2016 final.

Kevin Gameiro of Sevilla celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel,...

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