CELTIC will have to negotiated the long grass at Tynecastle before heading to Athens for the must score second leg against AEK on Tuesday evening.
Craig Levein was an interested observer at Celtic Park last night and he hopes to take full advantage as Celtic’s visit to Edinburgh is sandwiched between the vital Champions League Qualifiers against the Greek Champions.
And the boss of league leaders Hearts has confirmed that the grass will be especially long for Celtic’s visit.
Brendan Rodgers complained about the length of the grass at Tynecastle last season and Celtic even tried to force through a rule change in the summer. However this was rejected and Hearts are free to use the old Mircle Grow as much as they like to try to unsettle the Champions.
It should be noted that on the day Brendan complained about the length of the grass at Tynecastle, Celtic won the match 3-1. On the previous visit in December, the score on the barren winter surface was very different – 4-0 to Hearts so Levein is maybe milking his long grass trick a little too much.
Hearts, like Celtic have installed a new hybrid pitch over the summer and Levein was asked today if the grass was shorter than last time Celtic came calling.
“It’s a bit long just now, that’s all I can say,” Levein said. No surprise there then.
”There is a genuine issue, particularly on the likes of our own park this summer.
“We spent a lot of money to re-seed it and do a hell of a lot of work on it,” he continued.
“And when the grass is young, as ours is, then sometimes you need to have length in the grass to protect it.
“So I think it’s crazy to dictate to the groundsmen what length the grass should be when they are doing their best to protect the club and their pitch.”
Levein has plenty to ponder after watching the 1-1 draw with AEK Athens last night, as he tries to repeat the trick he pulled off last December – on shorter grass – when he managed a very comfortable 4-0 win over Celtic to end a remarkable unbeaten run.
“I was at the game in Glasgow and although Celtic dominated for long spells they probably ended up with a result that isn’t ideal,” Levein said.
“And we have found ourselves in a position of being the game in between probably their two most important games financially anyway for a little while. We will try and take advantage of that.”
Levein was asked if he thinks that Celtic will have one eye on Athens on Saturday.
“I hope they are. Brendan and his team are professional enough to try and not let that happen but I think it’s quite natural, understanding how important getting through this round would be for Celtic.”