Celtic manager Neil Lennon looking forward to renewing rivalry with Juventus


Click to follow
The Independent Football

Celtic manager Neil Lennon will be relishing another chance to pit his wits against Italian ginats Juventus when they come head-to-head in the knockout phase of the Champions League.

Lennon was in the heart of Celtic’s midfield the last time the two clubs met in the Champions League in 2001/02.

Celtic were unlucky not to advance past the first group stage that year, finishing third just two points behind group winners Juve and one behind Porto.

Nevertheless their two meetings with last season’s Serie A winners were certainly memorable; they lost the first encounter 3-2 courtesy of a dubious last minute penalty converted by Nicola Amoruso before they won the return clash 4-3 at Celtic Park, inspired by playmaker Lubo Moravcik.

And Lennon is hoping for more fireworks when they meet in the last 16 in February.

"I remember them very vividly," Lennon said. "The game in Turin was our first game under Martin in the Champions League proper.

"We didn`t play well in the first half and were 2-0 down to two Trezeguet goals.

"The second half we played brilliantly and got it back to 2-2 and looked easily like we were going to go and win it or at least get a point, and then we got done by a shocking, as Martin put it, and it was shocking, penalty decision.

"And that really set the tone for away performances in the Champions League for quite a while.

"The 4-3 game was probably one of the highlights of my career. A packed house, Del Piero, Trezeguet, Nedved, in the all-black outfit. They looked the part.

"Didier Agathe playing fantastically well, Lubo (Moravcik) was on fire, Sutty (Chris Sutton) and Henrik (Larsson) up front, 4-3, just one of the great European nights.

"I hope we get two more exactly the same - goals, controversy, action. And I hope it goes our way."

Despite progressing beyond the group stages for the first time since 2008, Lennon acknowledges that the current Serie A leaders will be tough opposition.

Yet the Northern Irishman is adamant that having beaten Barcelona earlier in the competition, his side should fear no one.

"They beat Chelsea 3-0 and not many teams do that,” said Lennon.

"I know they didn't have the manager with them for quite a while but he is back now. He has done a wonderful job there.

"They have been very consistent in Serie A. They are easily the best team in Italy at the moment and they are formidable opponents.

"We don't want this to end. It could end, but not without a fight.

"We will give Juventus as much as we can over the two games."