CELTIC - BARCELONA | LENNON
Lennon: "It’s very good news for us that Messi is out"
The Celtic coach spoke to the press before Tuesday’s game against reigning Spanish champions Barcelona.
Neil Lennon knows what it feels like to beat Barcelona, having achieved the feat last year in the same fixture (2-1). Tomorrow night the Hoops manager is looking to repeat the feat and he’s heartened by the absence of a certain Argentinean player:
It’s obviously very good news for us that he’s out as he´s the best player in the world, however, it's tinged with sadness as it's always good to see the best players play here in Glasgow.
James Forrest and Beram Kayal both trained today so they will be available. Derk Boerrigter didn’t train today so he will be a doubt for tomorrow. He picked up an injury against Morton and isn’t fully recovered from it yet. It was the remnants for the original injury he picked up a few weeks ago. Joe Ledley is out.
We’re looking forward to the game and obviously we welcome Barcelona here with open arms, and I´m hoping it´s going to be another great occasion. As regard our tactics, it will be very much, at times, containment, trying to limit Barcelona to as few chances as we possibly can and to maximise the opportunities we might get during the game like we did last year. They are not like any other team really.
Better than Milan:
Against Milan, we had our fair share of the ball and we had good chances, but Barcelona, in my opinion, are a class above. That´s not being disrespectful to Milan, but just in the way they pass the ball, create chances and the pace they have in wider areas. They have been consistently the best club side in the world in the past 10 years, although Bayern Munich look to have taken over that mantle.
In terms of our approach to Barcelona, it will be exactly the same. Whether Messi plays or not, they don’t change their system or style of play.
They believe in that 4-3-3 formation. It's worked very well for them over the years. They don't really have a proper centre-forward as such and that's when your centre-halves have to be very concentrated and alert at all times as they have runners coming from wide areas and deep. When they get the ball in the final third the speed of their passing is phenomenal at times.
You say they have defensive problems with injuries but they are keeping clean sheets – they had a clean sheet against Vallecano, Sociedad and Almeria. Regardless of the personnel they are defending very well. It does help if you can get the ball off them and you can have a sustained period of pressure.
We will try to exploit any weakness they show on the night. Our players are really looking forward to it. They are very hungry for this game."
If we don't prevail in this game and Milan beat Ajax then it´s going to be increasingly difficult. It’s not the end of the world if we don´t win the game. If Ajax and Milan draw then we are still well in the group with the double-header against Ajax and Milan still to come as well.
We are preparing for a very tough game tomorrow night. It would be fantastic if we could get something out of it, but, like we did last year, we never really budgeted for anything against Barcelona in both the games. If we can get something out of both the games it would be a huge bonus for us going forward in the group.