/ Soccer

Celtic boss Neil Lennon hopes to mark their 125th anniversary with a positive result against Barcelona tonight

Updated: Wednesday, 07 Nov 2012 14:34 | Comments

Celtic players distraught after conceding a late goal to Barcelona at the Nou Camp Lionel Messi was escorted into the Barcelona team hotel amid huge interest from Celtic supporters
Celtic players distraught after conceding a late goal to Barcelona at the Nou Camp Lionel Messi was escorted into the Barcelona team hotel amid huge interest from Celtic supporters

Manager Neil Lennon hopes to give Celtic fans an anniversary present to remember tonight against Barcelona (Live on RTÉ Two and www.RTÉ.ie/sport).

Celtic yesterday celebrated their 125th year as Parkhead prepares to host the Catalan giants for a keenly-awaited Champions League Group G encounter.

But Lennon knows it will be no easy task to overcome their star-studded opponents, who are top of the group with nine points from three games, including a 2-1 home win over the Scottish champions last month.

"It is a great occasion for the club, our anniversary and something we are very proud of," Lennon said.

"I think Wednesday night will be a very special evening.

"One, being in the Champions League, two, playing against arguably the best team in the world and three, the anniversary of our club. It is a pivotal year for us, one of celebration.

"How do you solve a problem like Barcelona? You have to play at your very best, you have to be fully concentrated with great intensity and sometimes even then that is not enough.

"But certainly with a full house tomorrow night I am sure the neutrals will enjoy the atmosphere and the energy that our supporters bring and it should be a great night for the club.

"I am hoping that the players do themselves justice on the night."

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova, though, is eager to throw cold water on Celtic's celebrations and guarantee progression for his side.

A Barca win coupled with a Spartak Moscow defeat against Benfica will assure the Primera Division outfit of first place in the group.

Asked at Celtic Park what would he would do if such a scenario unfolded, Vilanova, whose side have still to travel to Moscow before finishing with a home game against Benfica, replied: "It is probably the most important match in what is left of the year.

"If we qualify and are first in the group we will be able to rest some of our players and use the youth team."

When challenged on that policy later, in terms of it going against the spirit of competition and thus potentially harming Celtic's qualification chances, Vilanova gave Hoops fans some succour.

"I said the game was really important so that we could qualify and give some players a rest," he said.

"But do not worry, the teams that will play in the next games will always be top level because we have always been.

"The fact that some of those players don't play often doesn't mean they don't have an excellent level.

"But the most important thing is that we win."

User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use
Powered by NewsWhip