Lennon urges Celtic players to rise to Juventus challenge

Celtic manager Neil Lennon wants to see his players go toe-to-toe with Serie A champions Juventus when the sides meet on Tuesday in the Champions League, warning the squad that they might never get this opportunity again, the Guardian has reported.

Lennon hailed progression from a group containing Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow as the greatest achievement of his managerial career and called on the players to make the most of the fixture.

He added that they cannot count on reaching the latter stages of the competition on a regular basis, pointing to how difficult some of his predecessors and fellow managers in Scotland found it to do likewise.

Lennon said: “We might never get this opportunity again. I don’t want people thinking this is going to be an annual thing, because it’s a very difficult thing to do. So we have to maximise our opportunities.

We might never get here again. Gordon Strachan did it two years in a row here, Alex McLeish did it [with Rangers] the year before that. So it was almost as if it was going to be a foregone conclusion every year. But it’s such a difficult ride to get here. We have to make the most of it now.

Lennon also warned both Juventus and neutral observers to write off the Bhoys, who beat Barcelona in Glasgow in the group stage and came close to a famous result against the same opposition in Catalonia.

The former Northern Ireland international, who played for Celtic under Martin O’Neill, continued: “It would be dangerous to underestimate Celtic. We have proved in the Champions League that we can be a match for anyone.

We have caught a lot of people’s attention. We have been underestimated as a physical, up-and-at-them British-type team. That is exactly what we are not. We have skilful, technical players in our team and on a big pitch against quality opposition we know they can perform.

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