Celtic play cynical football based on shoving and provoking the opposition and will “fall apart” if Spartak Moscow can rise above their tricks in their Champions League clash on Tuesday, Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov told R-Sport on Monday.
Both teams are looking for their first win in the group stage this season ahead of the match in Moscow, with Spartak winger Aiden McGeady set to face his boyhood club.
“Celtic’s style, it’s shoving, provocations on the pitch,” Romanov said.
“The main thing is to play football and they fall apart. If you go and shove them back, it’s useless, they’ll shove you over. Celtic are masters at that kind of football.”
Celtic will also struggle as Spartak will benefit from considerable home advantage that makes it “difficult” for visitors, Romanov predicted.
The Russia-born businessman has long had a difficult relationship with leading Scottish football figures, including a lengthy feud with the FA.
Spartak suffered a blow ahead of the match when first-choice goalkeeper Andriy Dikan was ruled out for a month Sunday with a shoulder injury he picked up in the team’s 3-1 win over Amkar Perm on Saturday.
The Russians are also without Brazil midfielder Romulo, a key player in their opening 3-2 defeat to Barcelona, after he sustained a cruciate ligament rupture that could end his season.
Right-back Evgeny Makeev is also a doubt with a thigh injury.
Celtic’s Tunisian striker Lassad Nouioui will miss the game with a calf strain, and defender Adam Matthews has an ankle problem that kept him out of Saturday’s 2-0 win at Motherwell.
McGeady has spoken of his strong feelings at facing his former team and his need to block out his friendships at Celtic for the duration of the match.
“For 90 minutes tomorrow I won’t have friends on the pitch,” he said Monday, while Celtic coach Neil Lennon predicted his former Hoops teammate would “set the tone” of the match.
In Tuesday’s other game Barcelona visit Portugal’s Benfica, who played out a goalless draw away to Celtic in the first round of games.