• Celtic v Juventus, Champions League

Lennon: Celtic have the belief

ESPN staff
February 12, 2013
Celtic's group stage victory against Barcelona was one of the great European nights at Parkhead © Getty Images

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has insisted that his side have belief ahead of the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash against Juventus.

The Glasgow side qualified from the group stages ahead of Benfica and Spartak Moscow and alongside Barcelona, who they famously beat 2-1 at Celtic Park in November.

And Lennon reminded those pitting Celtic as the underdogs against Juve that his side are there on merit and should not be underestimated.

"I think we have been [underestimated] throughout the whole campaign and going into this game we are being made out to be massive underdogs but I don't quite see it that way myself," Lennon said.

"There is a real belief, anything can happen over two games. We have proved already this season that we can be a match for anyone.''

While Celtic's win against Barcelona was one of the famous European nights at Parkhead, Lennon recognises that he cannot simply replicate the same gameplan against the Italian giants.

"They are two different cultures,'' he said. "Juventus are very strong defensively, very well-organised, very consistent in domestic football and they have been very impressive in their Champions League campaign.

"We will have to change the way we played against Barcelona, but that is only natural because Barcelona dominate possession like no other team.''

Juventus coach Antonio Conte insists his side have the utmost respect for Celtic and is under no illusions as to what awaits the Bianconeri at Celtic Park.

"We have followed Celtic's progress and we know that we must be careful," Conte said. "At home they will be very dangerous with their fans becoming the twelfth man on the field, but in any case they are a good team.

"We have the utmost respect for Celtic and realise the danger they pose. We studied them a lot and know they will be a physical side who get most of their goals from set pieces. There are not many teams who could beat Barcelona at home and lose so narrowly away."

Celtic player to watch: Conte described Scott Brown as the "heart and soul of the team"- and the Hoops' captain will need to be at his influential best while facing a midfield containing Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba and Claudio Marchisio.

Juventus player to watch: And then there's Andrea Pirlo. The Italian will quarterback the Juventus attack with his probing passes and can be deadly from dead ball situations.

Betting: It won't be a bloodbath, but Juventus should leave Glasgow with the upper hand in the tie. Back them to pick up a couple of away goals at 13/2 with bet365

Prediction: 0-2

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