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Lennon ready for Barcelona challenge

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has urged his young side to attack Barcelona in their UEFA Champions League clash on Tuesday.

Lennon believes that his team’s 3-2 victory over Spartak Moscow in their last Champions League encounter has prepared them well for the fixture at Camp Nou.

The Bhoys came from behind in Moscow with an injury-time winner from Georgios Samaras which clinched their first away win in the competition in 19 attempts.

And the 41-year-old has claimed that the nature of the victory has them ready for a tough test on Tuesday.

“The performance in Moscow was probably even beyond my expectations,” Lennon said.

“We’ve got a lot of young players and they played very well that night. Tactically, and in terms of the bravery and spirit they showed, they were excellent and that has given us a platform to go to Barcelona.

“I don’t think we’ve got the mentality or the players just to sit in and defend, like Chelsea did against Barcelona.

“We have to try to create chances, like we did in Moscow. It won’t be easy – it’s the ultimate challenge for the players and for me, too – but we’re going to enjoy it.”

Lennon was on hand as Barcelona defeated Deportivo La Coruna 5-4 in a La Liga thriller on Saturday, and was suitably impressed by what he saw.

“They were incredible in the first half-hour. The possession and the movement was tremendous,” he said.

“Barca don’t play with a centre-forward as such. The front players tend to suck you out and then they hit you with a bit of pace in the final third of the pitch.

“The third goal, Messi’s first, was a thing of beauty. And his hat-trick goal? Well, you run out of superlatives to describe him.

“It gets you thinking, ‘how do you stop that? How do you defend against that?’. Going forward, they’re a dream.”

He added: “I want us to try and create chances and we’ve managed to do that in just about all of the games away from home in Europe in the past year.

“But this is the real acid test.

“This is the step up in class. They don’t come tougher than Barcelona away.”

Mon 22 October, 2012
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