• Champions League

Lennon plans to cut off Barca supply

ESPN staff
November 6, 2012
Barcelona snatched victory at the death at Camp Nou © PA Photos

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has said frustrating Barcelona in the wide positions is the key to diluting their attacking potency in Wednesday's Champions League encounter.

Lennon's side came within seconds of claiming an unlikely point at the Camp Nou thanks to a mix of heroic defending and sound tactics, and Lennon is plotting more of the same for the rematch at Parkhead on Wednesday.

"If you're open against Barcelona, they will beat you convincingly by just picking you off," he said.

"They've got so much quality and so much pace, and they know how to attack. They are the best passing team in the world, and you are going to be chasing the ball against them for long periods whatever you do.

"Our plan was to force them wide, to make them play through us. They leave the centre-halves redundant at times when they come at you with their quick passing, but defenders have more time if you push them into the wider areas.

"I was quite happy for my full-backs to go one against one. If they got skinned, then we'd get somebody over and it worked quite well for us."

Lennon pointed out that, in their 2010 Champions League semi-final defeat to Inter Milan, "there was a point in that game when Barca had 82% possession, even though Inter ended up winning. So we would look to approach it in a similar way".

He warned the Celtic supporters they will "have to be patient, but I think they are pretty well versed on Barcelona and the fact that they dominate possession against every opponent, home or away", adding: "I will try and watch some footage of games Barca lost and see if I can pick up on it and use it to our advantage.

"However, I'm going to concentrate on what we're going to do. I've looked back at the first game and I remain proud of my players for the way they performed on the night."

A point for Celtic would inch them closer to an improbable passage to the last-16 of the Champions League, with games against Benfica and Spartak still to come in Group G.

Celtic, however, will be without left-back Emilio Izaguirre, who has been ruled out for six weeks with a hamstring injury suffered during the 2-2 draw against Dundee United at Tannadice on Sunday.

Thomas Rogne is out for two weeks with a calf injury sustained in the same game. Winger James Forrest (hamstring) and strikers Gary Hooper (hamstring), Lassad (groin) and Georgios Samaras (ankle) missed the trip to Tayside, but the latter - who scored at the Camp Nou - could feature.

"Izaguirre is out for six weeks. He had a scan yesterday," Lennon said. "Rogne is looking at two weeks with a calf strain. James Forrest will be out for a week or two with a hamstring strain, and Lassad has a groin strain.

"Samaras is hopeful but Hooper is very, very doubtful, so we are a little bit stretched.''

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