UEFA Champions League
March 6, 2013
Lennon wants battling exit
Neil Lennon wants his Celtic players to go down fighting if, as expected, their Champions League campaign ends against Juventus in Turin.
The Hoops are 3-0 down from the first leg of their last-16 tie and almost certain to exit the competition to the Serie A leaders.
At his press conference in Turin this afternoon, the Parkhead boss recalled a "fantastic'' European run this season before insisting his players battle right to the end.
"We haven't had Champions League football for four or five years,'' said the former Parkhead skipper.
"We had some fantastic nights, even against Juventus the atmosphere was amazing.
"Barcelona, Benfica, to have those nights back at Celtic Park has been truly memorable for me. And going up against the best teams in the world, the best coaches in the world, has been a fantastic experience for a group of players who are relatively young in their careers and who haven't cost a lot of money.
"They have excelled, absolutely excelled, and they have done the club and Scotland proud.
"They have one more crack at it so if we do go out, we want to go out on our shield.''
Despite being in an enviable position, Juventus coach Antonio Conte is perhaps the only man in Italy who does not believe his side are as good as through.
Many believe that Conte should leave out Stephan Lichtsteiner, Claudio Marchisio and Artur Vidal, all of whom are within one yellow card of a ban, and give some of his fringe players a game.
However, the Juve boss insists the tie is not yet over.
He said: "I hear people saying this could be a good game for us to rotate the team, but if I play somebody it's because they give me guarantees they can play.
"We have three players one booking away from a suspension, but they will still be at risk of suspension after this round too.
"Nobody wants to minimise the importance of this game, in fact, qualification is obtained over 180 minutes.
"We've only played 90 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.
"There is a quarter-final to be reached so we definitely won't under-estimate this game.''