Celtic manager Neil Lennon
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has warned his players to focus on the job at hand and not to be overawed by playing in Camp Nou as he looked forward to their Champions League tie against Barcelona on Tuesday.
The Hoops had the perfect warm up for the crucial match as they demolished St Mirren 5-0 on Saturday to reinforce their lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League.
In Europe, Celtic sit second in Group G on four points, just behind Barcelona, after picking up their first away win in the competition with a 3-2 defeat of Spartak Moscow on match day two to follow up their opening goalless draw against Benfica.
However, Lennon knows the trip to Barcelona, who have lost just one of their last 20 Champions League games, will be a much tougher task and knows his players will need to be fully focussed if they are to get any kind of positive result.
“It will be an awesome occasion if we can get something out of the game but it wouldn’t be that great if we lose,” Lennon admitted.
“I’m taking a pragmatic approach and I won’t be getting carried away by our surroundings and I want the players to adopt that approach as well.
“For the supporters there will be all the glamour and glitz but the players have got to go there and compete and do themselves justice. It’s going to be a different game and a totally different animal, even from the Spartak Moscow game.
“We are aware of that but the result against St Mirren will have done the players no harm at all.”
At St Mirren Park on Saturday, the home side squandered a chance to open the scoring through Lewis Guy before two goals in three minutes put the Hoops on top.
Gary Hooper tapped in a 15th-minute opener from close range before Efe Ambrose volleyed home in the 18th minute following a fumble from Craig Samson.
Kenyan international Victor Wanyama rifled home a third in the 32nd minute before the midfielder bagged a double with a sensational strike from 30 yards that left the keeper with no chance.
Celtic took their foot off the pedal in the second half but teenager Tony Watt was still able to head home a late fifth as Celtic cruised to the biggest win of the season so far.
Scotland trio Scott Brown, Kris Commons and James Forrest were all nursing injuries and missed the match but it is hoped they can play a part against Barcelona.
However, Kelvin Wilson, Tunisian international Lassad Nouioui and Adam Matthews were all substituted in the win and the Celtic manager said they would need to be assessed before Tuesday.
“Wilson went off as a precaution because he was feeling a tightness in his calf, Lassad pulled up with his groin again so we will have to assess him over the next couple of days to see how he is,” the manager said.
“Adam Matthews had a bang on his knee but he should be ok. I’m hopeful about Kelvin and Adam but Lassad might be a doubt.”