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Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Messi: Celtic deserve to qualify

ESPN staff

Lionel Messi has thrown his support behind Celtic as the Scottish side prepares for a crucial Champions League clash with Spartak Moscow on Wednesday.

• Blog: Is Deulofeu ready?

Messi, 25, could be critical to ensuring Celtic finish second in Group G, with Barcelona requiring at least a point against Benfica to give Neil Lennon's team a chance of progressing to the knockout stages.

The Argentine admits he was frustrated with Celtic's strategies during their 2-1 win over Barcelona on matchday 4, but he believes the Scottish fans deserve to be in the top tier of European competition.

"We have not always been supportive of the way that Celtic try and play football," Messi said. "However, their fans deserve the knockout stages of the Champions League as I think the competition would be a quieter place without them."

Lennon sent a second string side into action during Celtic's 1-1 draw with Arbroath in the Scottish Cup on the weekend, but he expects a different attitude when the Hoops host Spartak.

"[We are] missing too many easy chances at home for my liking," Lennon said. "It will be no reflection on Wednesday whatsoever. Players will be fully focussed and we will be hoping for a different scoreline."

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