Champions League news

Lennon wishes for Celtic miracle

March 6, 2013
By ESPN staff

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has admitted it will take a "minor miracle" to beat European opponent Juventus and qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Celtic travel to Turin on Wednesday trailing 3-0 on aggregate to the Serie A leaders and know anything less than a perfect game will see the Scottish side bundled out of the competition.

But there is a more at stake than just a spot in the final eight of Europe's premier competition, with a Celtic club record hanging in the balance.

And Lennon is urging his players to use all aspects of the match as motivation as his side attempt to create a truly remarkable come-back in Juventus' backyard.

"It would be a tall order to win the tie 4-0 or 4-1 but we are capable of winning the game and that's what we would like to do," said Lennon. "If we win it would equal the club record (of wins in Europe in a season).

"Juventus are top of the league again and the draw could have been kinder to us but we want to close the gap on the score line and we will have to play at our optimum level to do that.

"It is a fantastic game to play in. We may not be here again as a group, you are playing the champions of Italy who are a very good team so enjoy it.

"Enjoy the stadium, enjoy the atmosphere, don't be intimidated.

"Go and play, the pressure is really off so try to restore some respectability in the tie, play your football and win the game.

"So we have a lot to play for, there is a lot of incentives, however, to qualify would take a minor miracle."

Perhaps sensing Celtic's attitude, Juventus coach Antonio Conte said he was wary of the "proud" Scots, hurt and vengeful after losing their grip on the tie in the first-leg in Glasgow.

"We've only played 90 (minutes) and we have another 90, plus maybe extra time and penalties, against a strong, proud team who will want to make amends for first leg," Conte said.

"There is a quarter-final to be reached so we definitely won't underestimate this game.

"It's going to be a test for everybody, starting with me, then the players and the club.

"Certainly the first leg has given us a seriously good chance of reaching the next round, but in football, there are always surprises if you don't play with the right determination and concentration.

"Celtic are a very physical side and can create lots of problems from set-pieces.

"We've got to be fully focused because we want to go through and so we've got to give it everything."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.