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Maribor coach believes Celtic will feel pressure of favourites tag

Maribor manager Ante Simundza insists all the pressure is on Celtic in their Champions League play-off clash at Parkhead tomorrow night.

Celtic are strong favourites to go through to the group stage of the competition for the third successive year after a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Slovenia last week.

Asked if the pressure had moved on to the Scottish champions, Simundza said: "Yes, because they are favourites.

"I don't know if it will affect them because Celtic is a very big team with a nice history and they are used to playing in such games but the pressure is certainly on them.

"I don't gamble but we have an equal chance of going through to the group stage and I think tomorrow will be a very tough match.

"I had watched DVDs and my assistant had given me information which meant Celtic did not surprise me in any way, what I expected from them I saw in Maribor.

"It would be a big achievement if we qualified.

"We played well in Maribor but we have to play a little bit better in Glasgow.

"But we know it will be very tough because we know Celtic are a very good team. We have to be tactically 100 per cent in defence and offence and in the 90 minutes we will see where we come."

Simundza, who played for Maribor the only time they qualified for the Champions League, 15 years ago, believes his team will be inspired rather than cowed by the huge Parkhead crowd.

"The atmosphere will be very hot but I don't think that will be a problem," he said.

"It is a football atmosphere and we like that.

"The 60,000 fans give energy to the team and of course make it very difficult but we know how to react to that.

"We have to be very focused in the first 15 minutes under pressure but that will not take our powers, it might give us additional energy."

Marcos Tavares thinks Celtic's obligation to attack at home will leave space for Maribor to exploit.

The 30-year Brazilian-born striker said: "I believe that we have a great opportunity. Celtic will have to play offensively but that will leave us some space to attack and get a positive result.

"It would be a big thing to qualify for the group stages, every player wishes to play in the Champions League and now is the time for Maribor to play there for the second time."

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