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Lennon: Ajax can be equal of Barcelona and Milan

Celtic FC boss Neil Lennon admits he would be thrilled to get anything out of the trip to an AFC Ajax side capable of causing as many problems as Group H's top two teams.

Lennon: Ajax can be equal of Barcelona and Milan
Lennon: Ajax can be equal of Barcelona and Milan ©UEFA.com

Celtic FC manager Neil Lennon admitted he would be thrilled to get anything from their trip to AFC Ajax, playing down hopes among the Scottish champions' fans of building on their 2-1 win a fortnight ago. On their day the Amsterdam outfit are, Lennon says, a match for Group H's top two FC Barcelona and AC Milan; Ajax's Frank de Boer didn't go that far but is confident his team will move from one UEFA Champions League point to four on Wednesday.

Frank de Boer, coach
I think we showed last time that we aren't a worse side than Celtic. This time we have our fans behind us and we do have a good chance of winning – but maybe it will be even closer than at Celtic.

We aren't picking up enough points at the moment – Ajax and the supporters are used to taking three points, so of course people are disappointed. I saw good things [in Glasgow] so I'm confident we can get three points here. Maybe for them a draw is enough so they will hold back a bit more than they did in Glasgow. We have to go for it and create chances.

Many good things are happening at Ajax, but ultimately it is all about results and these can be improved. I think we're heading in the right direction but we need to pick up some points.

Weekend result
Saturday: Ajax 0-1 Vitesse (Kazaishvili 90)
Cillessen; Van Rhijn, Veltman, Denswil, Blind; De Jong; Poulsen (Boilesen 69), Serero; Andersen (Klaassen 77), Sigthórsson, Fischer (Schöne 83).

• A last-minute goal consigned Ajax to defeat, their first home reverse since February. The Amsterdam outfit have lost three Eredivisie games this term, one more than in the whole of 2012/13.

Team news
Ruben Ligeon, out with a toe injury since 9 October, started against ASWH in the Dutch Cup last Tuesday but his return was cut short by an ankle problem and he sat out the Vitesse fixture. Bojan Krkić has not played since tearing his hamstring on 28 September, while Niklas Moisander (knee) and Lerin Duarte (ankle) have not featured since sustaining knocks on matchday two.

Neil Lennon, manager
It's a crucial game for us if we have any aspirations of progressing. We know how difficult it will be despite Ajax's recent form. Ajax are favourites because they are at home. We will have to play close to our best to get something out of the game. We are under no illusions as to how difficult this match will be. We're all looking forward to playing here in this tremendous stadium.

It's very rare we've had Kris [Commons] and James [Forrest] in the same team at this level. They are two big players for us and we missed Kris [on matchday three], his creativity and goals. James and [Giorgios] Samaras are very quick and to have those three fit is a big incentive for us.

We were the outsiders [in the group] but we've played very well in the first three games and I hope we stay strong tomorrow. We always knew the double-header against Ajax would be pivotal for us and it's proving so. Ajax are as good as Barcelona and Milan on their day. They cause us as many problems as those teams and it will be the same tomorrow. It's the most important game because it's the next one. If we can get something I will be thrilled.

Weekend result
Saturday: Celtic 1-1 Dundee United FC (Mulgrew 90+1; Armstrong 38)
Forster; Fisher (Lustig 46), Ambrose, Van Dijk, Izaguirre; Forrest, Brown, Ledley (Boerrigter 71), Mulgrew; Baldé (Pukki 60), Stokes.

• Charlie Mulgrew struck a 91st-minute equaliser as Celtic extended their unbeaten Premier League run to 11 games – the longest since 2003/04.

Team news
Adam Matthews (broken collarbone) and Steven Mouyokolo (Achilles) are expected to skip the rest of the group stage. Lennon is confident that Samaras (knee) and Commons (hamstring) will be fit, while former Ajax winger Derk Boerrigter made his comeback from an ankle injury at the weekend.

Match fact
• Celtic are hoping to avoid a third successive European away defeat this season after losses at FC Shakhter Karagandy in the play-offs and Milan on matchday one.