Commons tips Celtic to break fast from blocks
James Mariner is a journalist who has been boring The Independent sports desk with mindless statistics since June 2007. Helping with various, wide-ranging desk duties (I made the tea once), supervising workies and the endless researching of panels, James has an unnatural love of all things football, and in particular the Europa League, being a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. He cites Brian Sears and Ledley King among his heroes and can even find something interesting in Burnley v Hull City. On a good day.
Wednesday 19 September 2012
The Celtic midfielder Kris Commons has called on his team to hit the ground running when they begin their first Champions League campaign for four years at home to Benfica tonight.
The Hoops have not featured in the group stages since 2008-09 but a 4-0 aggregate success over Helsingborgs in last month's play-off took Neil Lennon's side through to a Group G also featuring Spartak Moscow and Barcelona.
"I always like it at 100 miles per hour from the first whistle," Commons said. "When the players come out to the music and everyone is at that peak, the fans are itching for you to get that early goal and that's how I like it to be.
"I like to let the other team know they are in for a game in the first 10, 15 minutes. I like them to know this is the maximum noise, this is how we play, this is how we are going to pressure you or this is how we are going to settle, and let them know that they are not in for an easy night and see where the game takes us.
"Certainly, we can't have 100 miles per hour for 90 minutes, or we wouldn't last. We are looking to stamp our authority early; there is nothing like playing at home first to give yourself the chance to get points. If it is three points then magic, but if not we will be looking to get one and get the ball rolling.
Manager Lennon has called on his side to learn the lessons from Saturday's surprising 2-1 league defeat at St Johnstone. "We have to be careful that we don't get picked off if we are going to press Benfica," Lennon said.
"There shouldn't be any nerves, this is a competition that the players look forward to playing in. I want to see them express themselves, play the football that they know they are capable of and, hopefully, improve on Saturday's performance."
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