Champions League: Celtic boss Neil Lennon relishes Juventus tilt

Champions League: Round of 16

  • Venue: Celtic Park
  • Date: Tuesday, 12 February
  • Kick-off: 19:45 GMT

Coverage: BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Radio 5live, live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Manager Neil Lennon has warned Juventus not to underestimate his Celtic side ahead of their Champions League encounter.

Celtic host the Italians at Celtic Park on Tuesday in the first leg of their last 16 tie.

"There is a real belief anything can happen over two games," said Lennon.

Continue reading the main story

It is the only show around, a European night at Celtic Park

Neil Lennon

"We go into the tie as underdogs but nothing is going to be decided at the end of 90 minutes."

Lennon said Juventus, who currently top Serie A by five points, would provide a stern test over two legs.

"They have excellent strikers - Mirko Vucinic, Fabio Quagliarella, Sebastian Giovinco - and they have also brought in Nicolas Anelka," he said.

"But the one who has caught my eye is Alessandro Matri. He looks an excellent young player."

Lennon also praised Juve's midfield, which includes Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba, Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo.

Juventus's Alessando Matri

Alessandro Matri has been identified as a Juventus dangerman

"The team is blessed with fantastic footballers but we knew that before the tie or before any preparations were made," said Lennon.

"It would be dangerous to underestimate Celtic. We have proved already this season that we can be a match for anyone."

Celtic reached the last 16 by finishing second in their group behind Barcelona. The Scottish Premier League leaders caused one of the upsets of the campaign by beating Barca 2-1 at home, before sealing their place in the knockout stage with a 2-1 win over Spartak Moscow.

Lennon said managing Celtic against the likes of Barcelona and Juventus were achievements he was very proud of.

"It is the only show around, a European night at Celtic Park," said the manager.

"It will be a fantastic football arena - for me, one of the best atmospheres in world football, never mind European football - and it is for our supporters.

"Obviously, the players will play their part but to bring these nights back to the club is something that means a lot to me.

"Anyone who has experienced a Champions League night here before will know what I am referring to."

Striker Georgios Samaras is battling a hamstring injury to feature against Juventus, while defender Efe Ambrose was in action for Nigeria on Sunday, helping them win the African Cup of Nations.

"We will see what condition he is in and if he is OK, we will have him in the squad," Lennon said of Ambrose's return to Glasgow.

"We will give Georgios as much time as he is needed. He has been doing pretty aggressive rehabilitation work and we are hopeful he will be okay.

"If not, then I have a very strong squad and we will have him fit for the second leg."