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Pressure on Spartak, warns Celtic boss
Published : 01 Oct 2012 20:19:27
Celtic boss Neil Lennon has warned that the pressure will be on Russian side Spartak in their Champions League Group G clash in Moscow on Tuesday.
"We're not the favourites on Tuesday and feel almost no pressure," said the 41-year-old Lennon. "The away Champions' League match is probably the most difficult thing in club football.
"Russian football is currently on the rise and it's stronger than Scottish football.
"There're several strong clubs in Moscow including Spartak, there are Zenit and Anzhi. Besides, our financial possibilities are also incomparable. But my players are in good form amd the entire team is healthy.
"Our successful start in the campaign boosts our self-confidence. The pressure ahead of the away qualifying match with Helsingborg was much tougher."
Lennon, whose side were held 0-0 by Portuguese side Benfica in their opening round match last month, marked out former Celtic winger Aiden McGeady as one the danger players to watch in Moscow.
"McGeady became an even more classy player in Spartak. He's one of those players who always attracts attention when he's with the ball or without it," the coach said.
"But we'll have no other chioce but hold him and the entire Spartak attacking line on Tuesday. We're all set to achieve positive result against Spartak."
Celtic skipper Scott Brown admitted that his side would need some time to adjust to the synthetic pitch of Moscow's Luzhniki stadium.
"The synthetic pitch at Luzhniki is a fast surface and we're not used to it but it was UEFA approved for the Champions League matches and we will have some time to adjust to it. I hope it will not become a big problem for us."
Spartak head coach Unai Emery said they wanted to put their 3-2 defeat to Barcelona behind them.
"This match is very important for us. After a defeat at Barcelona we need to take all three points at home," he said.
And Emery believes his side are more experienced than their Scottish rivals.
"Celtic are a young team with a few experienced players. They play very hard and aggressively, so we need to get used to the intensity and see where we can outperform them," he said.
"We've got important matches coming up both in the Champions League and against CSKA Moscow in domestic league. So our work has been designed to ensure everyone is prepared for these matches the best possible way."
Emery added there were injury concerns in their midfield and defensive line with Evgeni Makeev, Nicolas Pareja, Marek Suchy and Kirill Kombarov in doubt, but added: "The main thing for us is that McGeady is fit."