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Lennon admits mixed feelings over ´best and worst´ draw

Celtic manager Neil Lennon believes his side’s UEFA Champions League group draw is simultaneously the “best and worst” possible outcome.

The Scottish club have been drawn alongside Barcelona, Milan and Ajax in Group H, with their opponents boasting a combined total of 15 victories in the competition’s history between them.

And, although Lennon believes the fixtures have plenty of prestige, he admits Celtic’s chances of progression are threatened by the standing of their opponents.

“I think it’s the best and the worst of draws,” he told Sky Sports News. “In terms of glamour, I don’t think it gets any better. In terms of football, it’s going to be hugely difficult.

“They are three great clubs with fantastic pedigree and the fans can look forward to three more great nights of football at Celtic Park.”

Last year’s beaten finalists Borussia Dortmund are in Group F with Napoli, Arsenal and Marseille, and last encountered the latter pair at this stage of the 2011-12 edition of the tournament.

But with the German club having finished bottom of their group on that occasion, coach Jurgen Klopp is eager for his team to put in a better showing this time around.

“It’s a great, well-balanced group with four teams that have what it takes to get through. We have something to make up for against both Arsenal and Marseille,” he said.

“I have never been to Napoli, but I’m looking forward to the atmosphere. It’s going to be very exciting.”

Napoli boss Rafael Benitez welcomed the challenge of facing three testing opponents upon his return to a competition that he won in 2005 with Liverpool.

“When you talk about the Champions League, you know all groups are tough. Ours is one of the most balanced,” he said.

“Certainly, it will be difficult because we will be facing teams who have great experience in the Champions League. It will be a great challenge for us. Borussia (Dortmund) are a top club, they reached the final last season and they play great football.

“We faced Arsenal recently in London for the Emirates Cup, so we know them well. They have a great manager who is very experienced at European level.

“Against Marseille, I had my first success in Europe, the (2004) UEFA Cup final with Valencia. It won’t be easy in their stadium because their fans are very passionate.”

Thu 29 August, 2013
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