Christie: We don’t fear any team in race for Europa League glory

Ryan Christie.

Euro goal hero Ryan Christie let out a sigh of relief when the Dons avoided the big guns in the Europa League draw.

That wasn’t because the on-loan Celtic attacker wants to avoid European champions like AC Milan, PSV Eindhoven and Marseille.

He simply wants to play them later in the competiton – preferably in the group stages.

However, the 22-year-old is also a realist and accepts Aberdeen must negotiate a precariously balanced tie in Bosnia to progress to the third qualifying round for a fourth successive season.

This time the target within Pittodrie is the lucrative group stages but the first step is seeing off Siroki Brijeg away on Thursday after a 1-1 first leg draw at Pittodrie.

Should Aberdeen advance they will face Apollon Limassol of Cyprus or Zaria Balti of Moldova. Having initially been placed in Group 4 for the draw the Reds avoided Everton.

Christie accepts the Dons were not match sharp for the Euro opener against NK Siroki Brijeg after just three weeks’ pre-season training.

However, he is confident they will be up to the task of dumping out the Bosnians.

Christie, who netted in the first leg, said: “We obviously have to get past Siroki Brijeg first but if we do then it was a good draw for us.

“We avoided the big guns and hopefully we can save them for later ties if we make it past the Bosnians. I have never played in Cyprus or Moldova before so it will be an experience and hopefully this draw gives us a chance to progress further.

“Our mindset is all on Bosnia next week but we want to take more European games to Pittodrie this season.”

Should Aberdeen progress past NK Siroki Brijeg, the attacker is under no illusions that whoever they face, even though they are not recognised Euro names, will offer tough competition.

He said: “People can talk about smaller teams but there is no easy draw, that is for sure.

“We learnt that from the tie against the Bosnians.

“A lot of people might have looked at NK Siroki Brijeg and thought they were nobodies yet they came to Pittodrie and played really well.”

Aberdeen controlled the first half against the Bosnian Cup holders and rightly went in ahead at the break courtesy of Christie’s superb strike.

However, Siroki, who despatched Kazakhstan’s Ordabasy 2-0 in the first round, forced their way into the tie.

A leveller from Stipo Markovic secured a draw which was a fair result. Christie admits the Reds were frustrated about the result and conceding an away goal but after a night’s sleep were able to bring more perspective.

He said: “After the final whistle it was frustrating, that was the feeling in the camp.

“However, the morning after we were all a bit more positive knowing that we definitely have the ability to go over to Bosnia to get the result that we need. Although I would probably say it is 50-50 in the tie now, I am confident we can go out to Bosnia and turn this around.”

Aberdeen had just three weeks of pre-season training and friendlies against St Johnstone, Arbroath and Doncaster to prepare for their European entry.

Dons boss Derek McInnes had highlighed in the build-up to the tie that his side were never going to be 100 per cent and that there were also concerns over the lack of time to fully integrate the five new signings into the Dons style.

Christie insists the Reds will use the week between the home and away tie to ensure they are sharper and more integrated as a unit.

He said “You can play as many pre-season games as you want but it is always different when you go into a competitive game.

“We really wanted to take it to Siroki Brijeg and with the goal and start we made we managed to do that.

“In the first half we had the better chances and played really well.

“It was so frustrating in the second half because they came into the game and we lost our shape a little bit throughout the whole team.

“Although it was frustrating it was also understandable as we are only three weeks in and there are a lot of new boys in the squad, so it will take time to gel and work as a unit

“There is still plenty of work to be done on building understandings with the team.

“We have a week now to look over that first leg and come up with a game plan to hopefully see out the result we need.”

Christie arrived on a season-long loan deal from Celtic in the summer having spent a successful six-month period at Pittodrie last campaign.

He scored two goals in the final game of last season and continued that form by netting against the Bosnians

He said: “It was good to get off the goalscoring mark so early in the season and a lot of credit for it has to go to Joe Lewis.

“It was an incredible kick from him.

“As soon as the goalkeeper comes to collect a cross I like to make a forward run and Joe always seems to find me.

“My first thought when I hit the shot was that I should have passed it! So thankfully it landed up in the back of the net.”

Aberdeen will jet out to Bosnia on Wednesday morning and will be based at Mostar, a 25-minute drive from Siroki Brijeg.

The Dons must score in Bosnia, and Christie is confident they can.

“Although we have to go over to Bosnia and score we have enough of an attacking threat to be confident of doing that out there.”