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Lennon talks up Celtic´s 00004000 chances

Celtic manager Neil Lennon is confident of progressing in the Champions League despite being drawn with Juventus in the last 16.

After beating Barcelona at home and qualifying courtesy of a 2-1 win at Celtic Park against Spartak Moscow, Celtic reached the knockout phase of the competition for just the third time in the club’s history.

They will go up against Antonio Conte’s Serie A holders, who have already managed to take four points off reigning European champions Chelsea this term, with Lennon recognising the challenging nature of the tie.

But Lennon insists his team will not be overawed by the opposition after their previous heroics in Europe this season.

“Well in terms of glamour, it’s a beauty. Juventus are one of the great traditional European teams,” Lennon told Sky Sports.

“Current Italian champions finished their Champions League group very strongly so in terms of glamour it’s great, in terms of qualification it’s very tough.

“But it could have been any of the other teams and it would have been just as tough. But we’ll take it as it comes. We’re looking forward to the games now and I’m sure our supporters will be as well.

“(The players) believe over two games anything is possible, Juventus are littered with world-class stars and have been so consistent over the last 18 months. They’ve got a great winning mentality, but so have we.

“And to come through the group as impressively as we did; you just never know where you’ll be in a month or two’s time in terms of fitness and form, and we’re just hoping we can time it right for the two games.

“It’s very, very exciting for me as a young manager to be in this position, to sit there and watch the draw. It’s come very early in my managerial career, but I’ll never forget today. Now we can prepare as best as we can for Juventus.

“Juventus is just another huge game for us to enjoy and relish. Anything can happen over the two games. We’re in the competition, we want to go as far as we can and we believe we can do it.”

After finishing runners-up to Barcelona in the group stages, Celtic will be forced to play their first leg at home to Juventus, with Lennon arguing that the atmosphere inside the ground will be pivotal to any hopes of progression they may harbour.

He added: “(The home leg) is pivotal. Ideally you’d want to play the second leg at home but we have to try and take some sort of advantage to Turin.

“What pleased me about the group stages more than anything was the unbeaten run at home, which was very important.

“The fans will have to play their part on the night, and Celtic Park is a very special arena on a Champions League night.”

Thu 20 December, 2012
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