Celtic vs. Juventus  0 - 3

Article

Lennon wants to restore pride in Turin

5 March 2013 17:52

Celtic manager Neil Lennon is targeting a morale-boosting victory over Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Juve all but sealed progression to the quarter-finals in the first leg, ruthlessly consigning the Scottish side to a 3-0 defeat at Parkhead.

And, though Lennon conceded Celtic require a "minor miracle" to overturn that deficit, he believes a win by a lesser margin is a genuine possibility.

"We are capable of winning the game and that's what we'd like to do," he told reporters.

"We have to get a foothold in the game. If we create as many chances as we did at Celtic Park then we'll be in for a good night.

"Over 90 mins Juventus deserved to win. They are a class side with fantastic players but we played well and were unfortunate not to score.

"It's a fantastic occasion for the club, we're playing the champions of Italy in Turin. I'll tell the players to enjoy it, enjoy the stadium and the atmosphere, and not to be intimidated.

"The pressure is off, so we need to try and restore some respectability. If we can win in Italy it would be a fantastic achievement by this team. To qualify would take a minor miracle."

Lennon also confirmed striker Georgios Samaras will be fit in time to feature, and the Greece international has set his sights on causing huge upset.

"It's vital that we score the first goal to give us hope in the tie," Samaras said.

"We'll try to play the same way as we did in Glasgow, but this time we need to convert the chances we create. We have to take risks.

"A win first of all would be a success but as a team we want to make history and break records. I always say in football it is never over until the last second.

"Anything can happen in football."

Article

Marchisio targets double glory

21 February 2013 18:15

Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio is targeting a Champions League and Serie A double this season.

A 3-0 win over Celtic in the first leg of Juve's last 16 European tie has seen them put one foot in the quarter-finals.

And although their league form has faltered slightly since the mid-season break, Antonio Conte's men remain top of the Serie A.

Marchisio told Tuttosport: "The aim is to win the championship again and to get to London for the Champions League final.

"I know that it is a difficult ask, but we'll try everything possible in order to do just that."

On March 1, Juventus take on Napoli in what will be a battle between first and second – just as it was earlier this season – and Marchisio is anticipating a classic between the Serie A rivals.

"I'm convinced it will be a spectacle, a great game between great sides," he said.

The midfielder also defended his recent comments saying he dislikes Napoli and claims he was simply referring to the club in sporting terms, not the region itself.

"I was actually acknowledging Napoli for their excellent results over these past few years," Marchisio said.

"I don't hate Naples – that's absurd because every time that I go there I always manage to smile.

"I get to leave the fog behind and find a place in the sun, with marvellous people and incredible scenery."

Before their top-of-the-table bout with Napoli, Conte's side will play Siena at Juventus Stadium on Sunday.

Article

Commons slams woeful Ambrose

13 February 2013 16:18

Kris Commons has criticised the performance of Efe Ambrose following Celtic's 3-0 defeat to Juventus in the Champions League.

After winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria, Ambrose only arrived back in Scotland from South Africa on Tuesday morning (local time), but was included in the starting line-up after insisting he was fit enough to play.

Ambrose misjudged the flight of the ball to allow Juventus to open the scoring after less than three minutes of the match at Parkhead, before missing one of Celtic's best chances of the game with a free header.

He then lost possession to Mirko Vucinic who tucked home the third goal and effectively ended Celtic's chances of progression to quarter-finals.

"Look, the manager picked (Ambrose). The manager pulled him to one side and asked him if he was feeling okay. He said he was feeling brilliant," Commons said after the game.

"You know, if he wasn't feeling okay, then he should have said so. If he felt good, then he should have put in a better performance."

Commons did not just focus his frustration at the centre-back though, he also rued mistakes made by the entire team to allow Juventus to take a comfortable three-goal lead to the second leg in Turin.

"It was just very sloppy, individual mistakes," he said.

"Something you would probably get away with on a playground, not in the last 16 of the Champions League.

"There are certain individuals who let the team down tonight. At this level, you clearly can't afford to make mistakes. If you do, you end up coming away with a 3-0 defeat."

Celtic captain Scott Brown, meanwhile, focused his attention on Juventus' physical tactics, with a number of questionable incidents going unpunished by referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco.

"Their defenders manhandled every single one of us. Anywhere else on the pitch, it's a foul," he said.

"They knew we were strong at set-pieces and strong at running, the only way they could stop us was to manhandle us."

Article

Vidal satisfied after tough night

13 February 2013 10:08

Arturo Vidal says Juventus' 3-0 Champions League win over Celtic on Tuesday was not as easy as the scoreline might suggest.

Goals from Alessandro Matri, Claudio Marchisio and Mirko Vucinic helped the Serie A champions to victory in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie, but Vidal made it clear that they were pushed to their limit.

"It was much harder than the final scoreline suggests," the Chile international told Juve's official website.

"We played superbly and we definitely feel more comfortable with a result like this in the bag, but we're not there yet.

"If we want to make sure of our place in the quarters, we must produce a similar performance in Turin.

"We were up against an aggressive side but we carried out our plans as we'd prepared them."

The return leg takes place in Turin on March 6.

Article

Conte, Marchisio delighted with Juve win

13 February 2013 04:24

Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio was delighted with his side's emphatic 3-0 victory over Celtic in the Champions League.

Marchisio, who notched the second goal of the evening, told reporters he is confident his side has all but secured their spot for the quarter-finals.

"It is a very important victory, especially as we can be a little more concentrated on Serie A. We haven't passed through yet, but it is a great win in a difficult arena and we put in a fine performance," he said.

"It's true it is tough to overturn a 3-0 away win, but we must never be certain and always go out there with the same determination."

The 27-year-old is happy with his side's unbeaten Champions League campaign and believes that Antonio Conte's tactics worked to full effect against Neil Lennon's side.

"This team is having a great Champions League. This was an important signal to ourselves and nobody else. It was crucial to come here and score a goal, but we ended up getting three," he said.

"We saw they scored many goals from corners and with crosses into the box, so tried our best to make it difficult for them.

"It is their nature to be gritty and physical, but we gave as good as we got."

Conte admitted that he made various tactical decisions for the match and was pleased that they paid off.

"In the first half I told the lads it was dangerous for us to sit too deep, so Arturo Vidal and Marchisio were crucial to push it up and take the defenders with them. I worked a lot on that aspect," he revealed.

"We changed something compared to our usual defending, as they had scored 40 percent of their Champions League goals from corners and set-pieces. We were only surprised once with a header over.

"We did pretty well defensively apart from at times in the first half when we went too deep. It was a good performance, we knew Celtic were a good side and they might not be mentioned among the top teams in Europe for many years, but they beat Barcelona and eliminated Benfica and Spartak Moscow."

Conte went on to praise the deafening atmosphere at Celtic Park and the 43-year-old was delighted with the way in which his players coped with the Bhoys' 12th man.

"It was certainly a very important victory. I personally as a player have been in this competition for many years, but had rarely seen a passionate atmosphere like this," he said.

Chile international Vidal was equally thrilled with the scoreline but admits that it does flatter the Italian champions.

"I think we played exactly as we had to play tonight because Celtic are tough opponents, especially when they play at home," he said.

"If you look at the result you think it was an easy game for us, but I can say it was not like that at all. They were very dangerous especially from corners and set-pieces. We did well to control their attacks and then hit when the chances came in the late stages."

Article

Lennon blasts referee after Celtic loss

13 February 2013 04:21

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has criticised referee Andiano Undiano Mallenco in the aftermath of his side's 3-0 defeat to Juventus.

Celtic's hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League suffered an early blow as defender Efe Ambrose, who featured despite having played in the Africa Cup of Nations final for Nigeria just two days before, was caught under a long ball and allowed Alessandro Matri in to score after just three minutes.

And things got no better for the hosts as they were denied what Lennon believed were two clear penalties before Claudio Marchisio and Marko Vucinic struck late on to effectively end the tie.

"I think the scoreline flatters Juventus. I thought for the best part of the game, 70 odd minutes up until the second goal we were by far the better side - but we can't give away the goals we gave away. It was sloppy," Lennon told ITV.

"We took a gamble (on Ambrose), I thought he was poor for the first goal but we had a great opportunity to equalise and we had some great chances to be fair. We played ever so well for long periods of the game and we switched off defensively for the second goal and the third goal was poor.

"I'd like to ask the referee: 'Is the game different in Spain and Italy?' Every time one of my players was moving or trying to lose his man he was fouled, time and time again. He should have given a penalty on at least two occasions for us."

The 41-year-old remained realistic about his side's chances of progression but insisted that his young players will learn from the defeat.

"We'll need a miracle. It’s the harsh reality of Champions League football," he admitted.

"Some of our young players will have learnt a lot tonight."

Article

Lennon fit for Premier League, says Hartson

12 February 2013 08:35

Celtic legend John Hartson said a win over Juventus in the Champions League would see Neil Lennon hunted by the Premier League's top sides.

The Wales coach insisted, however, that it would have to be a special job for his former Celtic team-mate to be tempted south of the border.

Lennon made Europe sit up and take notice when he plotted Celtic's remarkable victory over Barcelona in November on the way to qualifying from the group stages of Europe's elite club competition.

His stocks have also risen on the domestic stage with a second successive SPL title virtually assured with a third of the season still to go - and Hartson believes Lennon could be the target of a manhunt from Premier League sides looking for an upgrade.

"Neil was thrown in at the deep end without any real managerial experience when he replaced Tony Mowbray. But he's done a great job and he's getting better all the time," Hartson told Goal.com.

"The Premier League is a managerial merry-go-round and I've no doubt that Neil will be in demand. I'm sure he would have no problems taking charge of a Premier League club in England.

"Celtic fans won't want to hear that because they don't want him to go, but they will be reassured to know that Neil is very happy at the club and it would have to be something special for him to even consider leaving."

Harston and Lennon were team-mates when Celtic tasted victory over Juventus in 2001 and Barcelona three years later, and the Celts boss is planning a rare player/manager double over two of Europe's most decorated sides.

Hartson believes that Lennon's success in this season's Champions League group stages have proven his tactical nous.

"His achievements in the Champions League group stage showed he is tactically astute and it put a marker down.

"He didn't have the millions that was spent by Barcelona, and the other teams in the group, Benfica and Spartak Moscow, but he got them well organised and they were very effective soaking up pressure and hitting on the break.

"Being the manager of Celtic brings with it real pressures, and that will stand him in good stead wherever he goes after Celtic.

"Martin O'Neill, his old boss at Celtic, used to say that you are never more than three or four bad results away from the sack because of the demands of the job, and that is a heavy weight on young shoulders.

"To be honest, I never really saw Neil as a future manager when we were team-mates, but then again, I used to travel to training at Celtic with Paul Lambert and I never saw it with Paul, either."

Article

Wanyama dreams of more heroics

11 February 2013 17:14

Victor Wanyama wants Celtic to draw on their victory over Barcelona when they tackle Juventus in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The Kenyan midfielder is likely to feature in the Celtic starting line-up when they welcome the reigning Serie A champions to Parkhead in the last 16 of the Champions League.

And he believes Neil Lennon's men must show the form which has seen them remain unbeaten at home in Europe's elite club competition this term, including a memorable 2-1 home win over Barca in November.

"We started this journey after negotiating two ties to reach the group stages," he told Goal.com.

"We are now in the knockout stage having prevailed from a very tough group that comprised strong teams - Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow. The journey is still on. We are not looking at just Juventus, but are looking at going all the way and maybe lifting the big prize.

"What is at stake is the big prize and that is why playing Juventus will be an amazing match. We were rated the underdogs and went on to shock Barcelona. On paper, I still believe that we are underdogs going into Tuesday's match against Juventus but this status will definitely keep us motivated.

"We have to seize this opportunity and put up a winning performance. It will be a wonderful atmosphere playing in front of our own fans. We saw that against Barcelona and that support gave us a boost."

Article

Commons mocks Juve´s training arrangements

11 February 2013 15:08

Kris Commons could not resist a jibe at Rangers' expense after learning Juventus would training at the facilities of Celtic's fierce rivals.

Rangers have invited Antonio Conte's men to train at Murray Park in the build-up their Champions League round-of-16 clash with Celtic at Parkhead on Tuesday.

"They can train in my back garden, it would make no difference. If they want to train at a Division Three training ground let them get on with it," Commons told the Scottish Express.

The Nottingham-born midfielder said Neil Lennon's men are full of confidence going into the fixture against the Serie A champions.

"Of course we fancy ourselves over the two legs. We're quietly confident," he said.

"We don't have a swagger about it because we'll go into both games as underdogs but we know we are more than capable of winning if we all play well.

"We've always been underdogs so for us to start taking the approach that we've made it would be the wrong attitude.

"We've gone into these games as underdogs, as people who are hungry for the game and want to prove our point and show the critics are wrong.

"I still see us as underdogs but we are a dangerous team to play against, especially at Parkhead. If all our top players are on song and the subs are making a good contribution too, then I think Juventus are in for a tough night."

Article

Champions League preview: Celtic v Juventus

11 February 2013 09:50

Celtic will be the underdogs when they host Juventus in the Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday, but that will not faze Neil Lennon's men.

Although the decline in the quality of Scottish football has been marked in recent years, Celtic and their Old Firm rivals Rangers have both enjoyed some success on the continental stage in the last decade.

In 2002/03, Celtic made it all the way to the UEFA Cup Final, where they lost 3-2 in an epic struggle against Jose Mourinho's Porto side - with Lennon starting in midfield for the Hoops.

The quality of that performance in Seville should not be underestimated, given Mourinho's team were only 12 months away from Champions League glory.

Celtic have always punched well above their weight in European football, famously becoming the first British team to lift the European Cup in 1967 with a 2-1 win over Inter Milan in Lisbon.

The Glasgow giants are already responsible for the upset of the Champions League so far, when they accounted for Barcelona 2-1 at Parkhead in November - meaning Juventus should be prepared for a difficult encounter and an intimidating atmosphere at Celtic Park for the first leg.

Of course, the reigning Serie A title holders and two-time European champions should have the edge on the park, with the midfield class of Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio and Paul Pogba providing service for the likes of Fabio Quagliarella, Sebastian Giovinco and Mirko Vucinic up front.

But Celtic have impressed this season, with Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama drawing plenty of transfer interest from south of the border, and Englishman Gary Hooper in excellent form in front of goal with 13 Scottish Premier League strikes to his name.

Both sides head into the clash in winning form, with Celtic fielding a virtual B-team in their 3-1 win over Inverness on Saturday - which sent them 18 points clear on top of the SPL - while Juve stayed five points clear on top of Serie A thanks to a 2-0 triumph over Fiorentina.

Whatever happens at Parkhead on Tuesday, it is sure to be another magical European night in the east end of Glasgow almost 60,000 fans cram into Celtic Park to see their side's first appearance in the Champions League knockout stages since 2007/08.

Article

Lennon unsure of Ambrose availability

10 February 2013 17:59

Celtic manager Neil Lennon says Efe Ambrose is unlikely to start in the Champions League round of 16 against Juventus on Tuesday.

Ambrose is expected to start for Nigeria when they take on Burkina Faso in the Africa Cup of Nations final on Sunday and then faces a long flight back to Scotland.

Lennon doubts the defender will be fresh enough for a place in his starting XI, with Ambrose unlikely to return to the country until Monday evening (local time) at the earliest.

"He seems to think he will be back on Monday evening or the early hours of Tuesday; we will assess him and see how he is," Lennon told reporters.

"It's difficult for me to think he will be in a starting position."

"He's playing in a huge game and then has a 10 or 11-hour flight. But we are hoping he will make the squad."

Celtic have struggled with injuries in recent weeks but Lennon is hopeful James Forrest, Georgios Samaras, Emilio Izaguirre and Fraser Forster will all be available for the visit of the Serie A champions.

"Forrest is fine, he has had the two scans and he came through all clear so he will be in the squad," the manager confirmed.

"He (Forster) is fine, there is no reaction to his injury and he will be ready for Tuesday.

"They (Samaras and Izaguirre) are rehabilitating very well. I think Emilio will be fine, now we are waiting on Sami and we won't know, maybe until Monday."

Article

Pirlo: Celtic fans will not intimidate Juve

6 February 2013 17:50

Andrea Pirlo says Juventus will have no fear when they visit Celtic next week.

Antonio Conte's side face Celtic in the first leg of their Champions League tie at Parkhead, but the Italian midfielder believes the ground's famous atmosphere will not intimidate Juve's experienced players.

"I'm sure the noise from the Celtic fans will be crazy, but that will only make us more determined to go into battle," Pirlo told Skysports.com.

"I know that Celtic Park will be like a gladiator arena, but we're ready. We are prepared for whatever Celtic have to offer. We have players who have won the World Cup and Champions League, so we are used to intimidating games."

The 33-year-old did reference Neil Lennon's team's victory over Barcelona in November, but feels that result will make his side approach the game in the correct manner.

"We saw that they beat Barca in Glasgow, but we are prepared to adapt maybe more than Barcelona did. We know Barcelona play fantastic football, but Celtic frustrated them. Whatever way Celtic want to play, we are ready for them," he said.

"If they want to play football, we'll play football. But if they want to battle, we are ready to go to battle," he said.

The first leg of the tie will be played on Tuesday, February 12, with the return leg on Wednesday March 6.

Premiership table

# Team MP D P
2 8 +10 17
3 8 +5 16
4 7 +9 14
5 8 +3 14
6 8 +3 13

Serie A table

# Team MP D P
1 5 +10 15
2 5 +8 15
3 5 +4 12
4 5 +4 11
5 5 +6 8