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Celtic must restore lost pride, says Lennon
Published : 05 Mar 2013 16:46:59Rss feed
Celtic manager Neil Lennon says pride must be restored first and foremost as the Scottish champions prepare to take on Italian giants Juventus in their Champions League last 16 second leg on Wednesday.
Juve defiantly put one foot into the quarter-finals of Europe's premier club competition with a 3-0 defeat of the Scottish champions 3-0 in Glasgow last month.
And while every Celtic fan will be dreaming of a result at a packed-out Juventus Stadium that would pave the way towards a place in the last eight, Lennon all but played down that possibility.
He said Celtic's priority should be trying to win the game in a bid to restore the pride that was lost at Celtic Park nearly a month ago.
"It would be a tall order to come to Turin to win 3-0 or 4-1, but we are capable of winning the game and that's what we'd like to do," Lennon said in Turin here on Tuesday.
"We want to restore some respectability in the tie."
Juventus Stadium will be full to its 40,000 capacity as the Italian champions prepare to celebrate joining the quarter-finals for the first time since their exit at the hands of Arsenal in 2006.
While the Italians could rest several first team regulars including Stephan Lichsteiner, Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal -- all of whom played in Glasgow but are one yellow card away from suspension -- their absence is hardly likely to be felt.
Juve coach Antonio Conte could welcome back Ghanaian midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah, who should be fresh after missing Friday's 1-1 Serie A draw away to Napoli, as well as French teenager Paul Pogba.
Celtic, meanwhile, will be without striker Tony Watt, who came off the bench to score the second goal in the win over Barcelona in the group stages while defender Charlie Mulgrew "could start on the bench" having only returned to training this week.
Although Celtic remain hopeful, Lennon appeared resigned to the fact that aiming for the win is more realistic.
"If we can create as many chances as we did at Celtic Park then we've got a chance," added the northern Irishman, who complained to European football's ruling body after the first leg due to several pushing and shoving incidents.
"If we can win in Italy it would be a huge achievement and allow us to match our club record in Europe."
When asked what he will be telling his players before the game, he said: "This is a fantastic game to play, we may not be here again together as a group. Enjoy it, don't be intimidated.
"We want to close the gap on the scoreline so we have to play at our optimum tomorrow night."
But, he added, Juventus won't be easy to overcome.
"They're difficult to break down, good on the counter-attack and have some real class performers," added Lennon.
"These players are top class international players. We can't go out there all guns blazing."