Ange Postecoglou, the Celtic manager, will look for the big personalities within his squad to step up over the course of the Europa League campaign that lies in wait. But it is the character within his team that he hopes to reveal over the next few months. 

Certainly, Celtic need to buck a recent trend if they are to nurture ambitions of reaching the last 32 of the tournament. Of their last five away games, four have ended in defeat with a malaise seeming to infiltrate Postecoglou’s side when they are on their travels. 

“You need to address the fact of what we haven’t done in those games,” said Postecoglou. “When I look at the first games we had, we had some good performances away but there were disappointing elements in them, especially against Midtjylland over there.  

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“The flip side of that is that we lost all those games by a single goal. The frustrating thing for me was that we had enough good opportunities to win them. I think that is maybe what we have to address but I don’t think we have to change the way we play or change our approach. 

“We want to play good football and be a dominant team but in big games and in tight games away from home, when the moments arise we take them.” 

Celtic kick off against Real Betis in Seville this week as they face up to Manuel Pellegrini’s side. The Spaniards finished sixth in La Liga last season but have so far struggled to replicate that form in an indifferent start to their domestic season.

They are currently without a league win after two draws and a defeat – they will try to change that tomorrow night when they play Granada – while the financial uncertainty within La Liga has also had an impact. They spent £3m on the addition of Argentinian defender German Pezzella but have lost right-back Emerson Royal to Spurs. 

Regardless, Celtic can be assured of a testing evening as they return to Seville. Postecoglou has never hammed up his Celtic connection but did reiterate that he is well aware of just what the European stage means for the club. 

“I had a funny indoctrination to Scottish football because I walked into a dressing room full of guys who grew up in this part of the world and there was some pretty strong bias in our dressing room,” said the Greek-Australian. “They made sure I understood the history of the football club they followed. The reward for us getting through the Europa qualifiers is to be involved in special European nights. 

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“If you look at our group, we are going to have some fantastic fixtures home and away and I can’t wait to be involved in them. More importantly, we hope to create more special memories that people will talk about in the future when they talk about the great European nights with this club.  

“That was one of the reasons for bringing someone like Joe [Hart] to the club. He has obviously played at this level for a long period of time. 

“We know that playing away from home we aren’t going to dominate games. We are going to have periods where we are under pressure and how we deal with that will be important.” 

The loss of Kyogo Furuhashi for the opening month of the campaign is an absence that is difficult to quantify for Celtic. Indeed, there remains a suspicion that if the Japanese playmaker had been at the club a few weeks earlier then Celtic might have given themselves a fighting chance of landing a Champions league spot for the first time in four years. 

“[We have the squad to cope] when everyone is fit, although that’ll probably never happen! We were a little bit light in the last group of games but there are options there to change things when we need to,” Postecoglou said.
“It can depend on how quickly new players settle in and get to understand our football.

“But I’m happy with the squad we have got together.” 

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Of equal note, might be those who are returning from injury. Christopher Jullien has yet to play a game this year after suffering knee ligament damage in December but he his presence has not gone unnoticed by Postecoglou. 

“He’s getting closer but he hasn’t trained with the group yet,” said the Celtic manager. “But he’s out there every day and from looking at him he can’t wait to get back involved.

“Hopefully over the next couple of months we’ll see him slowly get back into the team.

“I think he’s got a bit of presence about him. Even though he’s not training with us he’s still fairly influential around the group. But he’ll want to get out there and contribute first of all.”