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Lennon hopes for Barcelona off night

Published: Tuesday 6 November 2012, 19.52CET
Neil Lennon has his fingers crossed that Celtic FC can "catch Barcelona on an off night" in Group G, with visiting coach Tito Vilanova braced for a testing encounter in Glasgow.
by Emmanuelle Hingant
from Glasgow

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Published: Tuesday 6 November 2012, 19.52CET

Lennon hopes for Barcelona off night

Neil Lennon has his fingers crossed that Celtic FC can "catch Barcelona on an off night" in Group G, with visiting coach Tito Vilanova braced for a testing encounter in Glasgow.

Celtic FC celebrated their 125th anniversary on 6 November, and will look to mark the occasion with a positive UEFA Champions League Group G result against FC Barcelona. Although manager Neil Lennon knows the Scottish title holders have their work cut out, visiting coach Tito Vilanova is all too aware of the challenge his own side will face in Glasgow.

We need to keep the ball better but it's easier said than done. They don't change – they force other teams to change.
Neil Lennon
This is our most important game in the group stage because we need to win it to qualify, regardless of the result in the other match
Tito Vilanova

Celtic
Neil Lennon, manager 
It will be a very special evening. It'll be a Champions League game, we'll play probably the best team in the world and it's the anniversary of the club. I have watched Barcelona on many occasions. In recent away games, Barcelona dominate possession to the point where it's 70/30. We have no reason to expect to have possession – we accept we'll concede ground and the ball at times because they are the best in the world at keeping possession.

If we get something out of the game, it'll give us a strong foothold in the group. We want to get a positive result. We know it's going to be hugely difficult; I can't see any weaknesses in Barcelona. They are strong in every part of the park. We hope we can catch Barcelona on an off night. We need to keep the ball better but it's easier said than done. They don't change – they force other teams to change.

Weekend result
Sunday: Dundee United FC 2-2 Celtic (Mackay-Steven 89, Ambrose og 90+3; Miku 69, Watt 80)

Forster; Matthews, Rogne (Ambrose 20), Wilson, Izaguirre (Miku 49); Brown, Wanyama, Ledley, Mulgrew; Commons (McCourt 82), Watt.

• Miku scored his first goal for Celtic since joining on a season-long loan from Getafe CF. The Hoops returned to the Scottish Premier League summit despite surrendering a two-goal advantage at Tannadice.

Team news
Emilio Izaguirre has been laid off for six weeks with a hamstring injury picked up at the weekend, while Thomas Rogne (calf)  is also absent with a problem sustained on Sunday. Lennon rates Gary Hooper (hamstring) as "very doubtful" while James Forrest (hip) and Lassad Nouioui (groin) are definitely unavailable. Lennon hopes Giorgos Samaras will recover from an ankle complaint that has kept him out since matchday three.

Barcelona
Tito Vilanova, coach
This is our most important game in the group stage because we need to win it to qualify, regardless of the result in the other match. We'll be able to rest players once we have qualified.

I've never been here before but I've heard about the stadium and about the atmosphere. It's difficult to beat Celtic – we had problems at home and we only won it in the final minute. They're very good at set pieces and on the counterattack.

[Gerard] Piqué is an option and he has a chance of playing. He's been training well but it's a risk to play him. He hasn't played in a long while and tall players take longer to recover. Although he's been training well in recent weeks, it's hard to say when he'll be 100%. It's important to get players back, even more so central defenders, so it'll be good when we have Piqué and [Carles] Puyol again.

Weekend result
Saturday: Barcelona 3-1 RC Celta de Vigo (Adriano 21, Villa 26, Alba 61; Bermejo 24)
Valdés; Adriano (Alves 39), Mascherano, Alba; Pedro, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Fàbregas (Bartra 46); Messi, Villa (Alexis 78).

• Barcelona have made their best start to a top-flight campaign – nine wins and a draw – following a victory against Celta. Prior to Saturday's game, Lionel Messi revealed the ESM Golden Shoe, which he received for scoring 50 Liga goals last term, to the crowd.

Team news
While Piqué (foot) is touch and go, Adriano is out for three weeks with an adductor muscle tear that forced him off on Saturday. Puyol (dislocated elbow) is still recovering, and Thiago Alcántara, Isaac Cuenca, Marc Muniesa (all knee) and Éric Abidal (liver transplant) are long-term absentees.

Match fact
Henrik Larsson struck against his old club, with Deco and Ludovic Giuly also scoring, when Barcelona won 3-1 at Celtic in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League group stage. 

Last updated: 08/08/14 13.02CET

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