Postecoglou excited to take on Real Madrid in 'special' fixture

The Scottish champions were drawn against Real Madrid, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou says he is excited to come up against Real Madrid in the group stage of the Champions League in what he calls a “special fixture”.

The Scottish champions were drawn against the Spanish giants as well as RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk in the group stage of the continent’s top tournament.

As well as winning last season’s Champions League, the 14 times winners have also lifted the La Liga title and the European Super Cup in the last 12 months.

But the Australian and his players are looking forward to testing themselves against the best, and they don’t come much bigger or better that Karim Benzema and co.

Postecoglou said: “We are excited that we are in it, that’s the first thing, we want our football club to be amongst the best teams in Europe so there is a real sense of anticipation and excitement around the draw.

“Irrespective of the teams you get you knew there was going to be a challenge before you and I think, from our perspective, we are really excited about what’s ahead.

“The Real Madrid fixture in itself is a pretty special one and it’s a club we haven’t played in a very long time so I think for our supporters and everyone involved in the football club it’s an exciting opportunity to test ourselves against the reigning champions and a club that is steeped in the strongest traditions in this competition, so yeah, everyone is looking forward to it.”

The Celtic manager also believes Real Madrid and Hungary legend Ferenc Puskas would have been proud to see his protege lead the Hoops into a Champions League double-header against his former club.

Postecoglou played under the three-time European Cup winning forward for South Melbourne between 1989 and 1992 and soaked in as much knowledge from him before eventually moving into management at the same club.

He said: “Obviously, I was pretty fortunate and blessed to have Ferenc Puskas as my manager for three years.

“I asked as many questions as I could about his whole Real Madrid experience because it was such a fantastic team, not just in the timespan of when he was playing but beyond that, they really established themselves as one of the world’s greatest sides with the football they played.

“So it is a shame he is not around to see it.

“I am sure he would have taken great pride in seeing somebody he had a big influence over on leading a side out against them but, for our whole football club, it is always, that’s why we want to play at this level.

“We want to be in the Champions League to test ourselves against the best and that is what we will be doing.”

Just before the Champions League draw kicked off on Thursday, Celtic also announced the signing of Sead Haksabanovic.

The Montenegran winger will wear the number nine jersey at the club and Postecoglou believes he is ready to make an impact.

The 56-year-old said: “He’s a good player, he’s had really good experience at a relatively young age, both at club level and international, and I think he can fill a number of spots in our system.

“He’s really ambitious and determined to have a really strong career for himself.

“From our perspective it’s always about if we see the player fitting in to our system and the way the we play and I think he does.

“As soon as we showed interest he was really keen to make the move happen, it wasn’t the easiest of moves to coordinate but he really wanted to join our football club, which is a good sign for us at it shows he is coming here for the right reasons.

“I think he will be an asset for us, he will add to that depth in the front half of our team and at 23 years of age his best days are still in front him.”

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