CELTIC go into Thursday's Europa League encounter against Bayer Leverkusen in a curious position.

By virtue of their back-to-back victories over Ferencvaros, Ange Postecoglou's side have already ensured they will compete in Europe after the new year.

The Europa Conference League is not to be sniffed at - and depending on the draw, there is already a school of thought that Celtic could seriously compete for the trophy - but ideally the club wants to be in as high-quality a competition as possible.

As a result, Postecoglou takes his side to North-Rhine Westphalia in the hopes of keeping Europa knockout qualification alive.

In the run-up to the match, the 56-year-old spoke to the press. He confirmed Stephen Welsh's availability after taking a knock against St Johnstone at Hampden but stopped short with midfielder Tom Rogic, who he says will possibly return at the weekend.

Also on the agenda was the importance of keeping concentration, the lessons learned from September's 4-0 home loss to the Germans and, much to Postecoglou's chagrin, the League Cup final ticket allocations.

Here, we take a look at the key points from the Greek-Australian's chat with the written and broadcast press.

On the threat of Leverkusen...

"They're a good side. They've sort of picked up their form in the league so they're going well. And we obviously played against them already so we know the quality of the side we are facing - for all intents and purposes they're a Champions League team.

"It's a super-challenge for us. [It's] away from home and there's also the consequences of the result. We've just got to go there ready to face a good opponent.

"I thought when we played them here we did well in certain aspects of our game but we also realised mistakes are going to get punished. You're not going to get away with not being totally focused or concentrated for the whole game.

"That's going to be the case again tomorrow night. I'm sure we're going to have some bright spots - and I still believe we can take the game to them - but there's going to be moments when we will need to make sure our concentration levels are at the highest possible level because they will punish you.

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"There's always a challenge there when you play away from home and that's our main priority - to go there determined to make an impact but also understanding that if we're not on it the whole game we'll pay a price.

"But what the last two results have given us is the ability to control our own destiny - not that it's easy because we're playing a very difficult opponent. Right now we can't afford to think about anything but that we're playing a good side."

One accusation that cannot be levelled at Postecoglou is that he gets caught up in the moment. He generally seems to have his head screwed on enough to know that narratives change and perceptions mutate so quickly that it's best to keep everyone's focus on what's required for the task at hand.

On that subject he's unequivocal: focus, focus, focus. Celtic did cause Leverkusen problems in the home tie even though they ultimately lost heavily (more to come on that).

But those early chances in September - with players out and nothing like the confidence they currently possess - clearly provide enough of a basis for positivity that you could say Postecoglou's emphasis on concentration comes from a place of faith.

Faith that the Hoops do have it in them to make a big statement in Germany and faith that, if they manage to stay focused against what he rightly calls a dangerous opponent, they carry enough threat themselves to do just that.

On lessons learned from the 4-0 loss...

"[When discussing errors] I'm not talking about just people slipping over or making a bad pass or miscontrolling the ball. I'm talking about how you react to those things, because they are going to happen.

"Even conceding a goal and how you react to that. We didn't react well to that [last time] because even at 0-0 when we conceded we were still well in the game but we lost our composure. That's where we can help the team.

"It's not about eradicating individual errors, because they're human beings. They're going to make mistakes. It's how you immediately react to the mistake and what you do consequently after that - that's what I didn't think we dealt with well that night. In the context of the game we were still in it - even at 2-0 down we had some chances. But it felt like we lost our composure at times as we let the errors or goals compound into everything else we were doing.

"We can help the players by showing them we're in the game and there's no need to lose our composure. No need to change what we're doing. What they need to do is concentrate and focus every minute rather than thinking somehow the task has become insurmountable."

It is easy to see why players buy into Postecoglou when he gets in full flow like this.

His talk of players being human beings and the like is not to say that they will be absolved of any and all repercussions if a result goes against them, just that he is fully aware they cannot be controlled like he's playing on a console and external factors sometimes undermine aspects of play. 

It must be exceptionally reassuring to know that a manager asking you to go out to play in a certain manner will not be tempted to shove you in the firing line if you slip up in your attempts to do so. Ultimately, it all comes back to belief.

On gauging Celtic's progress as a team...

“We’ll only learn from the game if we play our football. You’ll learn absolutely nothing if you go out there and shy away from it. We can go and be conservative, try and hold on, try and survive, but if we do that we’ll learn nothing.

“All you learn is that you’re inferior and you don’t believe you can be any better. The only way we’ll learn anything in this game is if we go out there and take the game to them. That may be a painful lesson for us all but ultimately it’s a better way for us to find out.

“It may not be a painful lesson, it may show that we’re making a hell of a lot of progress. I’d rather go there and find out about ourselves than just go there and try to survive. That’s not the way you develop or grow as a team. 

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"If we want to get to these levels, we’ve got to use these games as a measuring stick and the only way to get measured is to go out and put yourself out there.”

Anyone who has listened even half-heartedly to Postecoglou this season will be entirely unsurprised by his words here.

As always with the manager, though, it's important to recognise that what he's saying isn't tantamount to a boxer thinking "let's just start swinging and hope we land a couple".

He wants to see his team go for it in attack but, ideally, they will win the game by imposing their style more than the opposition does, rather than via frenzied forward play with no rhyme or reason to it. It has always been thus... even if he will no doubt field questions about sitting back and more 'pragmatism' the next time results take a dip anyway.

On the League Cup final ticket allocation...

"Nah, you are not going to ask me about ticket allocations. We are playing Leverkusen in a big game tomorrow night. Don't waste the opportunity.

"I have no desire or any inkling to get involved in ticket allocation, that is not my brief. I will let you pass on that one. I will give you a freebie, give me another question."

The manager's ability to scythe down what he considers inane questions has already become legendary in Scottish football.

His latest riposte - which, it should be noted, began with him putting his head in his hands - was borne of exasperation that, although the topic of the cup final itself is still fresh, the rather more pressing matter of Europa League qualification was not the main topic of discussion. Quite.