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Ronny Delia has high expectations as Celtic begin Champions League campaign

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Ronny Delia had a real baptism of fire when he took up the reigns at Celtic Park following Neil Lennon's departure from the club.

Coming in as a relatively unknown figure and with a strange reputation developed in Norway, Delia's side were dumped out of Europe on two separate attempts by lesser sides.

Finding his feet

Legia Warsaw illegally fielded a player in their 6-1 aggregate defeat of the hoops and after Celtic were reinstated to the competition they failed to beat Maribor in the following round of qualifying. Delia was barely in the door before trouble was at his feet.

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Twelve months on and things have changed for the Nord. Tonight they host Icelandic celebration enthusiasts Stjarnan in the first leg of their Champions League Qualifying round with Delia's men coming off the back of a confident campaign in which the Hoops secured a League and Cup double and an impressive run in the Europa League.

Delia now knows his team. Players like Stefan Johansen, Virgil Van Dijk, Leigh Griffiths, Nir Bitton have all found their feet for Delia and has the backing of the likes of Scott Brown and Charlie Mulgrew.

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Summer moves

Smart buying has plugged the gap left by the impressive Jason Denayer and prepared him for the potential loss of the outstanding Van Dijk.

With the over reliance on Leigh Griffiths to deliver upfront has been addressed with the addition of Nadir Ciftci, there's more of a unity and a sense of control at Celtic Park.

Looking ahead

Now Delia is pushing on for a 'clean sweep' in the SPFL and qualification for the Champions League proper is a must. Tonight's opposition need not be underestimated, as Celtic have done so in the past.

However, with a confident pre season under their belt and Delia armed with a greater knowledge of his side, the fans and team are a lot more confident and aware of the teams potential this year.

But before getting ahead of themselves, the tricky task of underdog opposition must be dealt with first and is surely going to provide the first big challenge for Ronny Delia's Celtic.

Celtic v Stjarnan kicks off at 7.45 pm UK time with the return leg in Starjnan to be played Wednesday 22nd July

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