Lennon: We want to miss the big guns – but they're all big guns in Champions League draw

Celtic in knockout draw for first time in five years as Manchester United and Arsenal also to learn fate

Theirs has been the story of the Champions League so far this season. Celtic and romance in Europe's highest competition have always walked hand in hand since Jock Stein led a group of players born within a good jog of Celtic Park to triumph over Internazionale in Lisbon in 1967.

Current manager Neil Lennon has stirred memories of that famous night at the Estadio Nacional, with a run to the knockout stages of this season's tournament. Celtic's budget has been dwarfed by those they have faced, but it has not mattered, their spirit, organisation and tenacity a glowing and growing testimony to Lennon.

They were cruelly defeated in injury-time in the Nou Camp. The 2-1 victory against Barcelona in the return leg at Celtic Park will go down as one of the greatest upsets seen in European football for years. It has taken Celtic to the knockout stage of the competition for the first time in five seasons.

Now Lennon wants to avoid the remaining giants of European football, including Manchester United, as the Scottish Premier League leaders look to carry their form beyond the final 16 of the Champions League, in today's draw in Nyon.

"In Europe you never really feel confident," he said. "You always worry about all the opposition. I would like to avoid the big guns, I say big guns, but they're all big guns.

"Bayern Munich are a tough, top team, Manchester United, obviously, and Juventus, who have been pretty consistent for a few seasons. Dortmund have been excellent over the last couple of years as well.

"Malaga spent a lot of money. Whether they will have to sell in January, we will have to wait and see. PSG are probably relative newcomers but they are well backed. Schalke have pedigree, they made the semi-final in 2011. If we can avoid the top four and one of those three, you might think we have a chance over two games. Look, whatever the draw brings, we will analyse it to death to get the team ready for whatever comes.

"We have got through the psychological barrier of winning away from home as well now."

For the first time in the Champions League, the reigning champions have not reached the stage where the competition really starts to get interesting. Robert Di Matteo paid for non-qualification for this stage with his job at Chelsea, but in such a rarified atmosphere, the failures match the rewards. Manchester City, the champions of England, will similarly feel the real pain of failing to get out of the qualification group today. For them, there is not even the fallback of the Europa League, although their bid to retain the league title may yet benefit from that secondary slip-up.

The absence of Chelsea is more notable given the amount of teams left at this stage who have already lifted the trophy. More than half (nine) of the remaining 16 teams have won Europe's premier competition at some point in their history.

The eight group winners will be paired against the eight runners-up in two-legged ties that will be played in February. Manchester United, who won Group H, cannot, however, be paired with another club from the same country at this stage of the competition. Thus, there will not be a battle of England against Arsenal, who finished runners-up in Group B. United could, however, as Lennon alluded to, face Celtic, who were runners up in Group G. United could also be paired with Porto, Milan, Real Madrid (who they were picked to face in a rehearsal draw yesterday), Shakhtar Donetsk or Valencia. Sir Alex Ferguson's side won their first four group games, before two relatively meaningless defeats.

For Arsenal, the cost of not winning their group becomes apparent at 10.30am today. The list of potential opponents is a who's who of European powerhouses. It could be Paris St-Germain, Barcelona, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund or Malaga. However, Arsène Wenger will know only too well of the calming nature a Champions League run can have on a troubled domestic campaign.

Celtic and Lennon similarly face giants wherever they turn. They could take on any of Arsenal's opponents, apart from Barcelona. Instead, they have Schalke and United to contend with. In their favour is the fact that Celtic Park is a European fortress that few clubs in the draw will feel particularly pleased about heading to.

Beating Barcelona has been the story of this year's competition by a country mile. By lunchtime today, however, some of European football's true giants will be concerned about their very future in the competition.

The seeding pots for the draw are as follows:

Group winners: Paris Saint-Germain FC (FRA), FC Schalke 04 (GER), Málaga CF (ESP), Borussia Dortmund (GER), Juventus (ITA), FC Bayern München (GER), FC Barcelona (ESP), Manchester United FC (ENG)

Group runners-up: FC Porto (POR), Arsenal FC (ENG), AC Milan (ITA), Real Madrid CF (ESP), FC Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR), Valencia CF (ESP), Celtic FC (SCO), Galatasaray AŞ (TUR)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments