Europe 'great substitute' for Old Firm

Published Wednesday, 05 December 2012
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Celtic boss Neil Lennon has described his side's Champions League success as a "great substitute" for the loss of Old Firm games this season, as he looks to qualify for the knockout stages on Wednesday night.

Europe 'great substitute' for Old Firm
Neil Lennon during a training session at Lennoxtown, Glasgow. (© PA)

The club will host Spartak Moscow at Parkhead in the final Group G game, with a place in the last 16 up for grabs if they can get a better result than Benfica against Barcelona.

Celtic have taken seven points from five games - including an impressive 2-1 home victory against Barca - so far in this year's Champions League.

Lurgan-born Lennon said it has made up for the absence of Glasgow rivals Rangers in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, and the loss of four Old Firm derbies.

"There is no doubt it has been difficult at times," he said, reflecting on the Ibrox club's liquidation and reformation in Irn-Bru Division Three.

"There has been an economic problem with not having the four Old Firm games this season, a lot of revenue and interest has been taken away.

"Getting through to the Champions League has been a sort of great substitute, certainly for the players and supporters, they have really enjoyed the campaign so far.

"As regards next year, it will be the exact same remit. I think we might have three qualifiers to get through so it will make qualifying even more difficult.

"But that is just the reality of where we are so we have to accept that and make the best of what we have and that is exactly what Celtic are trying to do."

Meanwhile caretaker Spartak coach Valery Karpin has insisted his side - who have nothing but pride to play for - won't take the game lightly.

He said: "No, we will take this as a serious game and there will be no place for experiments, except with maybe two or three players. We have a lot of things to prove and it us up to the players to prove they are up to the challenge."

© UTV News
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4 Comments
What in Derry wrote (603 days ago):
Wise up What in Belfast - two words - SOUR GRAPES ! and you know it ! Enjoy watchIing the Gers in 3D, oh sorry 3rd Division.
Tom McAnulty in Virginia wrote (604 days ago):
Old Firm will be back - but champs league games v Barca and Benfica definitely (more than!) make up for them.
SHORT STRAND MAN in belfast wrote (604 days ago):
neil lennon..legend.hope he doesn't read that pathetic little comment from "What" he might lose a nights sleep.oh dear.if the gers hadn't cheated then maybe he wouldn't be so bitter.and the people of dundee can also rest easy now they won't get a visit from the bigots in the scottish cup.hail hail
What in Belfast wrote (604 days ago):
A great substitute for Old Firm games - wise up lennon - the old firm games will be back soon, hopefully you will not be and we won't have to look at your face anymore
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