UEFA Champions League
October 23, 2012
Lennon: Barca will get a tough 90 minutes
Team Stat Comparison
|Goals for *||1.7||1.7|
|Goals against *||1.0||2.0|
|Last 5 home||L-D-W-D-W||L-W-W-D-W|
|Last 5 away||L-D-L-W-L||L-L-L-W-W|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Barcelona | Celtic|
|12/11||H: Celtic||12/11||A: Barcelona|
Neil Lennon stressed his Celtic side are not in Barcelona "for a holiday'' after they landed in the Catalan capital ahead of the Champions League clash with Barcelona at the Nou Camp.
The Parkhead men trail their star-studded hosts at the top of Group G by two points after two games but few expect an away win, even though Barca coach Tito Vilanova has something of a defensive crisis on his hands with Daniel Alves, Carlos Puyol, Gerard Pique and Eric Abidal all expected to be missing.
The Hoops boss acknowledged the magnitude of the task in hand but is keen to ensure his players go into the game in the right frame of mind.
"It is exciting times for the players and the club and the supporters as well,'' he said. "But we are not here for a holiday. We are not here for the tourist attractions.
"We are here to play football. We are going to be in for a tough 90 minutes but we want Barcelona to be in for a tough 90 minutes.
"We need character and mental strength and allied to that the players need to play at the peak of their abilities to overcome what is probably the best team in the world at the minute.''
Lennon, however, admits Celtic's first away win in the Champions League against Spartak Moscow in Russia earlier in the month, where Georgios Samaras headed a late winner in the 3-2 victory, has taken some of the pressure off his side.
He said: "There is always pressure going into any game but what we have done is give ourselves a nice cushion, a platform.
"Maybe we didn't visualise getting a result in Moscow but this is the ultimate test, away from home against Barcelona.
"We haven't really budgeted for anything out of this game but who knows?
"The players are young and fearless. There is a bit of naivety about them at times but there is plenty of international experience and we saw that in Moscow.''
Scott Brown (hip), James Forrest (groin), Georgios Samaras (elbow) and Kris Commons (hamstring) returned to the squad after missing Saturday's 5-0 Clydesdale Bank Premier League win over St Mirren in Paisley.
Defenders Adam Matthews and Kelvin Wilson picked up respective knee and calf complaints during the win over the Buddies and will also be assessed at training while Lassad (groin) and Dylan McGeouch (knock) did not travel.
The Northern Irishman said: "We hope the guys who picked up knocks at the weekend will be okay.
"Scott, James, Kris and Georgios will train but I think the squad is healthy.''
Meanwhile, Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova is worried his makeshift defence will struggle against Celtic's pace and aerial power.
Barca have not lost a game in La Liga or the Champions League this season and sit top of Group G with maximum points after two games.
However, at the pre-match press conference at Barca's famous old stadium, Vilanova was quizzed repeatedly about the defensive crisis he has on his hands with Gerard Pique joining Daniel Alves, Carles Puyol and Eric Abidal on the sidelines while midfielder Sergio Busquets is suspended.
After conceding four goals in a 5-4 win over Deportivo La Coruna at the weekend, midfielders Alex Song and Javier Mascherano look set to form a makeshift central defence again.
Vilanova tried to play down the significance of his injuries but admitted concerns.
"Injuries are normally a headache for a coach but we have got what we have got,'' he said. "And all the players are at the right level to play for Barcelona.
"We would like to improve on everything and score more and concede less and we will try to do that.
"But all Champions League games are complicated and I am worried because Celtic are very fast up front and they proved it against Spartak.
"They play good, counter-attacking football so we know they are dangerous.
"They are also good in the air and so I am really worried about that
"Celtic tied with Benfica and beat Spartak in Moscow which was a good thing for them.
"At the beginning people maybe did not take into account of the possibility of Celtic going through but with four points from two games and two games at home to go, they have a chance.''