Celtic not here on holiday, warns Lennon
Monday, 22 October 2012
Celtic FC's pace and aerial presence worry FC Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova and Hoops boss Neil Lennon warned: "It'll be a tough 90 minutes for us but it will be for them too."
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The odds are stacked against Celtic FC as they visit Camp Nou in UEFA Champions League Group G, but FC Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova knows to take the Hoops seriously, with his opposite number Neil Lennon determined that his Scottish champions give a good account of themselves in Spain.
Coach Tito Vilanova
Home games are very important in the Champions League. If we win this one, we will take a huge step forward. Celtic drew at home to Benfica and beat Spartak and that’s a sign they are doing things well. Maybe people didn't take Celtic seriously at the start of the season, but we do. Over the years there have been lots of examples of teams who have been written off and were dangerous. Celtic are very quick and good on the counterattack, so we have to take them seriously in the Champions League.
There are four games left and anything can happen. We will see which two teams qualify. All the games are difficult and Celtic’s pace and the fact that they have tall players for set pieces are what worries me the most about them. I would prefer to win scoring the most possible goals and not conceding any, but when it comes down to it, I just want to win.
Saturday: RC Deportivo La Coruña 4-5 Barcelona (Pizzi 26pen 47, Bergantiños 37, Alba og 79; Alba 3, Tello 8, Messi 18 43 77)
Valdés; Montoya, Song, Mascherano, Alba; Iniesta, Busquets, Fàbregas (Xavi 61), Tello (Pedro 56); Messi, Villa (Adriano 54).
• Lionel Messi's 15th Liga hat-trick helped Barcelona to their seventh league win in eight games, despite the 49th-minute dismissal of Javier Mascherano. The Azulgrana had not conceded four in a game since 1 March 2009.
Defenders Carles Puyol (dislocated elbow), Gerard Piqué (ankle) and Daniel Alves (hamstring) did not play at the weekend, and Vilanova confirmed that none would be available to take on Celtic. Thiago Alcántara, Isaac Cuenca, Marc Muniesa (all knee) and Éric Abidal (liver transplant) remain long-term absentees.
Manager Neil Lennon
We haven't designed a plan of attack because it depends who plays for Barcelona. We know what Barcelona can do – we have to play our best possible match. We will field the strongest team possible. We got a good result in our last Champions League match so we have nothing to lose. We're not here on holiday or for the tourist attractions. It'll be a tough 90 minutes for us but it will be for them too.
There's always pressure for any game. We have grown as a team over the last year. We haven't really prepared any differently for this game. Our previous results take the pressure away from us, but there's always pressure in the Champions League. [Lionel] Messi, Pedro [Rodríguez], Cesc [Fàbregas], Xavi [Hernández], Andrés Iniesta... the list of good players is long.
We have to play compact, with high intensity, very concentrated. We need a great performance until the end. We can try to stop balls reaching Messi. Better teams and better coaches than myself have tried to stop him and failed, so we shall see what we can do.
Saturday: Saint Mirren FC 0-5 Celtic (Hooper 15, Ambrose 18, Wanyama 32 38, Watt 86)
Forster; Matthews, Wilson, Mulgrew, Ambrose; Wanyama, Ledley, Kayal; Nouioui, Hooper, Watt.
• Efe Ambrose scored his first goal for Celtic as they registered their biggest away win of the season.
Lassad Nouioui (groin) and Dylan McGeouch have not travelled to Spain. While Lennon has concerns over Scott Brown (hip), Kris Commons (hamstring), James Forrest (groin) and Kelvin Wilson (calf), Giorgos Samaras (arm) and Adam Matthews (knee) look to have recovered from their respective injuries.
Lennon was in the Celtic side that ousted Barcelona in the 2003/04 UEFA Cup fourth round. Víctor Valdés, Puyol and Xavi Hernández played in Celtic's 1-0 first-leg victory, secured by an Alan Thompson goal, and all featured again in the goalless second leg.