PERHAPS few managers in world football are under the sort of pressure facing Unai Emery this season. The Paris Saint-Germain manager has wanted for little this summer, with the club’s Qatari owners giving him the funds to bring in Dani Alves, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, the latter for a world record transfer fee in the region of £200m.

Already operating with an expensively-assembled squad, the upgrade has also meant an increase in expectation. If a first Champions League success for the French club was something hoped for rather than anticipated in previous years, then it is different this time around. When PSG begin this year’s campaign in Glasgow tonight, they will do so as one of the favourites to win the whole thing. Emery, to his credit, did not shy away from that burden.

“We go into this game with a lot of confidence,” he said after his players had enjoyed a stroll across the Celtic Park rather than training on it as is customary before a game of this magnitude. “We have worked hard and we will have to work hard here, too.

Loading article content

“I know, obviously, that the Champions League is a big objective for the club. It’s true that it’s the most important competition. So I have a lot of responsibility, with so many good players at my disposal. It is a great moment for the club, to be starting a Champions League campaign. The important thing is we want to see progress step by step.”

Celtic’s fortitude at home has perhaps been overstated of late – they have not won any of their last six European group games – but their reputation still proceeds them. Brendan Rodgers’ side will not Emery’s biggest worry this year but he was deferential about their qualities regardless.

“There are a lot of other good teams in the Champions League – and Celtic are one of them,” added the Spaniard. “We have to be careful because we know that, at home, Celtic play with so much intensity. We respect Celtic, a very strong team with a very powerful mentality, a lot of international players. We know that they will attack and defend as a team. We have a lot of attacking players but we still have to pay attention to defence.”

Leigh Griffiths was one player to have caught Emery’s eye, the manager having seen his two free kicks for Scotland against England in June.

“All teams have players who must respected and I have seen Leigh Griffiths play in different games,” he added. “I admire his quality, the way he holds the ball, his movement and his scoring ability.

“We’ve analysed his style of his play and the whole Celtic team. We have to counter their strengths. Celtic is a club with a big history and this is an important match for them in the Champions League.

“Celtic will play with intensity when they don’t have the ball and intensity when they do have the ball. They will look to attack with speed. It’s a huge night for their team and for the supporters.

“We know the atmosphere will be special, everyone knows that about Celtic. It will be a difficult atmosphere for any visiting team. You must overcome that. But if you work hard and play well, you can handle it.”