Hearts boss Robbie Neilson has warned his team that they can’t afford to pass up chances if they are to make their mark in the Europa Conference League.
The Tynecastle side begin the group stage with a home match against Istanbul Basaksehir on Thursday and are hoping to make the most of home advantage and get points on the board in a competitive group.
Hearts are in the competition after dropping down from the Europa League play-offs, where they lost out to FC Zurich. Neilson feels the lessons from that tie, when Hearts had opportunities to score but were punished by a more clinical side, have to be taken on board.
“It’s going to be a tough game but we feel that coming to Tynecastle, if we can get the levels we got against FC Zurich, then, you know, we’ve got a real chance,” the Hearts boss said. “The simple answer to that is we need to score the goals when they come.
“We had three or four really good chances and we didn’t take them. You see it with Celtic last night, especially in the first half, had two or three exceptional chances.
“You don’t take them, you get punished at this level. And that’s the small details that make the difference.”
Having done his homework on the opposition, Neilson is wary of Basaksehir, and says they have quality and know-how throughout their side.
“They’re a different type of team and more of a possession-based team,” he said.
“They have some really good midfielders. Biglia, the Argentinian guy in the midfielder is top and got real strength. Okaka up front and in the wider areas they’ve got real pace and finesse as well.
“So we know that all over the pitch they’re a very, very experienced team. You know, look at the average age of them, it’s, you know, 28 or 29 and all good players.
it’s going to be tough to progress out of this group. The two top seeds are top teams.
“It’s going to be hard. We can’t start thinking we need to get X amount of points to get through.
“We’ll take the next game and hopefully deal with that and also make sure our league form is OK because that’s the bread and butter that got us here.”
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