Celtic manager Neil Lennon says that the Celtic Park crowd will give his players the belief they need to compete with Benfica tonight, and Barcelona and Spartak Moscow in the coming weeks.
We’ll have live updates from all tonight’s Champions League matches in our LIVE SCORE CENTRE
Celtic team to play Benfica: Forster; Matthews, Lustig, Wilson, Izaguirre; Forrest, Brown, Wanyama, Mulgrew; Commons; Miku.
Lennon who experienced Champions League football as a player says he won’t settle for the Scottish champions going down without a fight, despite the loss of a few keys players for the arrival of the Portuguese team.
“We don’t want to just be also-rans or make up the numbers. We are going to compete in this group.
I think we’re ready. We are a couple of players light in terms of injuries. But there is a huge motivation for this game and they want to make their names in this competition.”
The Lurgan man says that the occasion won’t get to the players in Parkhead.
“When the music comes up and the roar comes up from the crowd, it just elevates you to a different place.
“The nerves go completely and you just get a huge shot in the arm from the atmosphere. To bring these nights back to Celtic Park is fantastic for everyone associated with the club and I think we’re all looking forward to getting started now.”
Benfica too will be without a number of key players too but manager Jorge Jesus says he has the squad to cope, and who know the pressures of the Champions League.
“We are very confident. We have conditions to use different players in different circumstances to adapt to the game.
“We’ve worked on a strategy to match any team, be that Barcelona or any other team. The last three years Benfica have been in the Champions League.”
Celtic will be without a number of key players, with Beram Kayal, Joe Ledley, Georgios Samaras, Paddy McCourt and Filip Twardzik all ruled out for the match.
Charlie Mulgrew and Scott Brown have both shrugged off knocks from Saturday’s defeat to St. Johnstone and will feature.
Benfica’s Brazilian defender has been banned for pushing a referee during a pre-season friendly while club captain Luisao and fellow defender Maxi Pereira are also suspended, playmaker Carlos Martins misses out with a thigh injury.