Tuesday 21 November 2017

Lennon invokes spirit of Spartan warriors for Bhoys

Celtic manager Neil Lennon
Celtic manager Neil Lennon

Roddy Forsyth in turin

THE mothers of Spartan warriors famously urged their sons to return from battle either with their shields or upon them.

In Neil Lennon's case, the image that he summoned prior to Celtic's daunting engagement with Juventus – who lead 3-0 from the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie – was handed down to him through the paternal line.

"It's an old saying my Da used to talk about. If you're going to go out, go out having given every last drop you've got," said the Celtic manager on arrival here.

"But we can't go gung-ho. They are brilliantly well organised defensively so we need to think our way through the game if we can. I'm not expecting to win the game three or four nil, but I'd like to win it 1-0, 2-1.

"If we could do that it would be a fantastic achievement again. Is the tie beyond us? I'm a realist. It will take a minor miracle, but miracles do happen sometimes.

"If we could even go in at half-time a goal up, you just never know. Obviously, we'd have to defend a bit better than we did in the first game. I thought we created plenty of chances, but they are a very difficult team to break down because they go back into a five and a three. The majority of goals they concede come from either crosses or long-range shots."

Lennon has taken pains to give Juventus their due for the condign punishment they visited upon his players for lapses in the first leg, but the manager remains aggrieved about the manner in which the Juve defenders were allowed to manhandle his players.

Celtic sent a DVD with a collage of the most blatant incidents to UEFA and asked for comment or, at least, guidance on what would be acceptable in the return leg.

The governing body of European football has not acknowledged receipt of the evidence, but Lennon's counterpart, Antonio Conte, dismissed the Celtic manager's view, declaring: "If Lennon complains about the referees, perhaps he is a coach who can come to Italy because here we all complain," said Conte.

Whatever the mood of tonight's match official – Turkey's Firat Aydinus of Turkey will be in charge of only his second Champions League tie – Lennon will have to depute a different player to police Andrea Pirlo.

Scott Brown, who was allotted the role in the first leg and accomplished his task effectively until fatigue set in late in the contest, is ruled out because of his hip injury. Victor Wanyama looks most likely to be the shadow to Juve's playmaker. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Juventus v Celtic,

Live, RTE2, 7.45

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