Commons eyes early assault
Celtic midfielder Kris Commons is looking to blitz Benfica with a storming start in Wednesday's Champions League Group G opener at Parkhead.
The Hoops have reached this stage of European football's elite club competition for the first time in four years and the landscape, it is widely believed, has become even more technical, methodical and cerebral in that intervening period.
However, Scotland midfielder Commons is looking for the blood and thunder start to the match that has often characterised big nights at Celtic Park.
"I always like it at 100 miles per hour from the first whistle," he said. "That's just me.
"When the players come out to the music and everyone is at that peak, the fans are itching for you to get that early goal and that's how I like it to be.
"I like to let the other team know they are in for a game in the first 10, 15 minutes.
"I like them to know this is the maximum noise, this is how we play, this is how we are going to pressure you or this is how we are going to settle, and let them know that they are not in for an easy night and see where the game takes us.
"Certainly we can't have 100 miles per hour for 90 minutes, or we wouldn't last.
"But we are looking to stamp our authority on the game early doors, there is nothing like playing at home in the first game to try to give yourself the chance to get points.
"If it is three points then magic, but if not we will be looking to get one and try to get the ball rolling.
"But it will be tough and every single player in our team will have to play at the top of their game for 93, 94 minutes."
Celtic's section also includes Barcelona and Spartak Moscow but Commons does not believe the difficulty of the task that lies ahead means the pressure to succeed is any less.
"We are not there to make up the numbers and let teams beat us willy nilly," said the former Derby and Nottingham Forest player, one of Celtic's best performers in the early part of the season.
"We are looking to win every single game and that probably includes Barcelona away.
"We've got to aim high and give a good account of ourselves.
"We will be going out to win the game but we know it will be a tough game, and against a team probably like no opposition that we have met this year.
"I like playing under pressure. I like when people expect me to do well.
"It drives me on knowing I have to perform. The games that you can let pass you by you tend to (let pass you by).
"We are in it for a reason and want to continue our good form in Europe and progress.
"I would like to see us to still be in Europe in the New Year, to get that third place and qualify for the Europa League but personally I want to get to the next stage and qualify for the knockout stages (of the Champions League)."
Manager Neil Lennon, hoping his side have recovered from their shock 2-1 defeat at St Johnstone in the Scottish Premier League at the weekend, recognises the boost a full house at Parkhead can provide for the home side but with some reservations.
"We have to be careful that we don't get picked off if we are going to press Benfica," said the former Hoops skipper.
"But traditionally at home we do like to play a quick tempo.
"It is a quick pitch and it will be watered beforehand but that might suit both teams. I think the game will be at a fast pace.
"There shouldn't be any nerves, this is a competition that the players look forward to playing in, to challenge themselves against the best clubs in Europe and Benfica certainly come into that category."
"What I want to see is the team playing as well as they can. I want to see them express themselves, play the football that they know they are capable of and hopefully improve on Saturday's performance."
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