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Celtic hope for Benfica repeat

Celtic FC have progressed in Europe each time they have faced SL Benfica in the past and Neil Lennon's men will hope for more of the same in their opening Group G fixture.

Neil Lennon was in the Celtic team that finished above Benfica in their 2006/07 UEFA Champions League group
Neil Lennon was in the Celtic team that finished above Benfica in their 2006/07 UEFA Champions League group ©Getty Images

Celtic FC mark their return to the UEFA Champions League after a three-season absence with a home fixture against last season's quarter-finalists, SL Benfica.

• Celtic will be hoping to get the better of Benfica, fellow former European champions, for the third time in the group stage. On the two previous occasions the clubs met at this phase, Celtic qualified in second place with the Lisbon side third.

Past meetings
• The clubs first met in 1969/70 when it took a coin toss to decide their European Champion Clubs' Cup second round tie. Goals from Tommy Gemmell, Willie Wallace and Harry Hood gave Celtic a 3-0 first-leg win in Glasgow but Benfica responded with an identical victory in Lisbon thanks to Eusébio, Jaime Graça and Diamantino. Celtic went on to the final where they lost 2-1 to Feyenoord.

• As in 1969, the two clubs posted identical home results in their UEFA Champions League meetings. In the 2006/07 group stage, Celtic won 3-0 through goals from Kenny Miller (2) and Stephen Pearson, while Benfica reversed the score in Lisbon with Gary Caldwell's own goal and strikes from Nuno Gomes and Andrei Karyaka.

• In 2007/08, Óscar Cardozo earned Benfica a 1-0 home victory before Aiden McGeady, now playing for Group G rivals FC Spartak Moskva, did the same for Celtic. The lineups in Glasgow on 6 November 2007 were:
Celtic: Boruc, Naylor, Caldwell, Kennedy, McManus, Brown (Sno 89), Hartley, Jarošík (Donati 66), McGeady, Vennegoor of Hesselink (Killen 66), McDonald.
Benfica: Quim, Luís Felipe, Edcarlos, Luisão, Léo, Katsouranis, Rui Costa (Bergessio 77), Pereira (Di María 61), Binya, Rodríguez, Cardozo (Nuno Gomes 77).

Match background
• Celtic are competing in the group stage for the seventh time and have made it to the last 16 twice before – on the two occasions they were grouped with Benfica.

• Celtic have already posted two victories at home in this season's competition, beating HJK Helsinki 2-1 in the third qualifying round and Helsingborgs IF 2-0 in the play-offs.

• Benfica reached the quarter-finals last season, their best campaign since 2005/06 and only the third time they have got beyond the group stage in seven attempts.

• The Lisbon club went five away games unbeaten from the third qualifying round through the group stage last season, but lost their knockout matches at FC Zenit St Petersburg and Chelsea FC.

• Celtic have recorded nine wins and one draw from ten home matches against Portuguese opponents. Their most recent visitors were SC Braga for a UEFA Champions League qualifier in 2010/11 but a 2-1 victory failed to undo the damage of a 3-0 away defeat in Neil Lennon's first European tie as manager.

• Benfica's only other trip to Scotland brought a 2-1 success at Heart of Midlothian FC in the 1960/61 European Cup preliminary round, the first step on the road to their first continental crown.

Team ties
• Lennon played in both Celtic's matches against Benfica in 2006/07 – lining up against Luisão – and was in the team that beat Boavista FC in the 2002/03 UEFA Cup semi-finals but lost to FC Porto in the final. With Northern Ireland he faced Benfica director Rui Costa in a 0-0 home qualifier for the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

• Benfica assistant coach Minervino Pietra faced Scotland twice with Portugal, a 1-0 home win in 1980 UEFA European Championship qualifying and a 0-0 away draw in 1982 World Cup qualifying. Shéu, another Benfica director, played in both matches along with a 4-1 loss in Glasgow in the earlier campaign.

• Lima was in the Braga side that eliminated Celtic in 2010/11 with Artur on the bench.

• Eduardo Salvio played for Club Atlético de Madrid in their 1-0 win at Celtic in last season's UEFA Europa League group stage.

• Nicolás Fedor has faced Argentina's Ezequiel Garay and Uruguay's Maxi Pereira with his Venezuela national side. Fedor was at Valencia CF at the same time as Pablo Aimar but never featured alongside him in the first team.