Leigh Griffiths admits the success of Celtic’s entire campaign could hinge on Wednesday night’s “make or break” Champions League clash with Astana.

After sweeping all domestic rivals aside last term, Brendan Rodgers’ outfit once again have aspirations of making their mark in Europe.

They take on the Kazakhstan champions on Wednesday in the opening leg of their final qualifier, with a ticket for the group stages and a potential £30million windfall on the line. But Griffiths admits that, with the new season barely a month old, they are already facing a match that could define their year.

He said: “It makes or breaks our season if we get to the Champions League. Last year it set us up on a great platform. We knew it was a difficult group but having Champions League football back at Celtic Park after two disappointing years previously was massive for everybody involved.

“If we can get back into the group it will put everyone on a real high. The fans will be shouting from the rooftops and it will make the start we’ve made to the season worthwhile.”

Victory over Rosenborg in the previous round guaranteed that Rodgers’ treble winners would be playing in European fixtures until December at worst.

Leigh Griffiths scored a penalty against Astana last season (Jane Barlow/PA)
Leigh Griffiths scored a penalty against Astana last season (Jane Barlow/PA)

All that remains to be settled against Astana is whether that is in the continent’s premier competition, or its poor relation the Europa League. But Griffiths was defiant when it was put to him by a Kazakh reporter that defeat to their opponents from Central Asia would be “catastrophic”.

“I don’t think about losing,” he shot back. “We as a club don’t think about losing. I only think about the Champions League group stages. I don’t think about the Europa League.”

Celtic head into the first leg boosted by having a packed dossier on Astana following their clash in the third qualifying round last year. But while Rodgers reckons the Kazakhs have not changed much, he says his side have developed a steelier edge in the 12 months since.

Celtic will still be without striker Moussa Dembele (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Celtic will still be without striker Moussa Dembele (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“We played them last year and had two tough games which thankfully we got through,” said the Northern Irishman, who will still be without defenders Erik Sviatchenko, Dedryck Boyata and striker Moussa Dembele.

“The style hasn’t changed so much. But the European games we had last year helped us gain a resilience. It was interesting watching last season’s qualifiers back and in terms of how we played the game, what our idea of football was, it was nowhere near what it is now. So what we have built up since then is that mental resilience.

“We’re missing some key players but it’s not a computer game. It’s not Football Manager where if you lose one you can just pick one straight off the computer and put him straight in. It’s much more difficult than that – but I have always put trust in the players I have.”