x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Champions League: Neil Lennon wants Celtic to play for respect

Manager Neil Lennon is asking his Glasgow Celtic side to restore their pride when they face Juventus at Turin, while his assistant, Johan Mjallby wants the referees to be wary of Juventus's defensive tactics.

Celtic's manager Neil Lennon is extolling his side to play to restore their pride as they take on Juventus at Turin in the Last 16 second leg tie of the Champions League.
Celtic's manager Neil Lennon is extolling his side to play to restore their pride as they take on Juventus at Turin in the Last 16 second leg tie of the Champions League.

Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager, says pride must be restored first and foremost as the Scottish champions prepare to take on the Italian giants Juventus in their Uefa Champions League last-16 second leg on Wednesday night.

Juve defiantly put one foot into the quarter-finals of Europe's premier club competition with a 3-0 defeat of the Scottish champions 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 on Tuesday. "We want to restore some respectability in the tie.

"If we can create as many chances as we did at Celtic Park then we've got a chance. If we can win in Italy it would be a huge achievement and allow us to match our club record in Europe."

His assistant Johan Mjallby has warned the players to stay calm if they face familiar tight marking by Juventus to the first leg.

The Scottish Premier League leaders were unable to make the most of 10 corners in their first-leg defeat amid a hands-on approach to marking by the Italians.

Gary Hooper and Scott Brown were both booked in penalty-box clashes, along with the Juventus pair Stephan Lichtsteiner and Simone Padoin, and Lennon sought feedback from Uefa on the Spanish referee Alberto Mallenco's performance after claiming they should have had at least one penalty.

But Mjallby knows his players need to have faith in the Turkish referee Firat Aydinus in Turin.

Mjallby, who left Glasgow Airport on Tuesday morning without the injured striker Tony Watt, said: "We watched the previous game they played, against Napoli away, and I have to say they did the same thing again.

"They were marking their opponents very, very roughly and hard when it comes to corner kicks and wide against free kicks. We just have to be ready for it and hopefully the referee is very strong if it happens again.

"They should always be strong, that's their job. If the referee thinks it's a penalty, and if it's a penalty by the rule book, then it should be awarded a penalty. If we give back the same medicine, you never know what is going to happen."

Only a total collapse by Juventus can prevent the Italian team from booking a place in the Champions League quarter-finals, but their players have still been urging against complacency.

"There's still a lot to do - we mustn't fool ourselves that qualification is already in our pockets," the defender Giorgio Chiellini said. "I think the 3-0 win in the away leg was a great performance from the squad, but there's still a whole game to play. So I am convinced that on Wednesday we will give our all in this game and then only think about where Juventus can get to much later on."

Chiellini could miss the game after sitting out training with a recurrence of an ankle injury he picked up last month.

He could be replaced by Federico Peluso, who made his Champions League debut in the first leg after joining on loan from Atalanta in January. Three players with yellow cards - the midfielders Lichtsteiner, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio - will probably be rested.

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