Neil Lennon writes off repeat of Barcelona shock

Celtic grabbed a historic 2-1 win over the Spanish champions in Glasgow last November on their way to securing a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Updated: September 29, 2013 12:53 IST
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Glasgow: Celtic manager Neil Lennon says it would be unrealistic to expect a repeat of last season's famous win over Barcelona when the Catalan giants visit Parkhead on Tuesday.

Celtic grabbed a historic 2-1 win over the Spanish champions in Glasgow last November on their way to securing a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Barcelona are the visitors again on Tuesday night in their Group H clash and many Celtic fans are hopeful of a repeat performance.

But while Barca have added Brazilian superstar Neymar to their squad, Celtic have sold influential trio Gary Hooper, Kelvin Wilson and Victor Wanyama, who scored in last season's memorable triumph.

And manager Lennon, whose side slumped to a shock 1-0 League Cup defeat by Championship side Morton last week, was quick to quell any expectations of another victory against a team he rates as the best in the world and with the best player, Lionel Messi.

"There is a strange expectation but to me it's unrealistic," the Celtic manager said.

"This is arguably the best club side in the world with the best player of all-time, in my opinion.

"So we will have to find that inner strength, concentration and intensity to our play again but I've got great belief in these players."

Celtic warmed up for the match against Barca with a 5-2 thrashing of Kilmarnock that moved them level at the top of the Scottish Premiership with leaders Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

After a slow start Celtic scored three goals in seven first-half minutes when a Kris Commons strike and a Georgios Samaras double saw them race into a commanding lead.

However, Kilmarnock dragged themselves back into the game through a Sammy Clingan free-kick and a Sean Clohessy strike just before the break.

Celtic dominated after the break but it took until the 87th minute for Samaras to complete his hat-trick when he headed past Samson and substitute Amido Balde added a fifth in stoppage time.

After the win Lennon hailed Greek international Samaras and praised the striker's performances this season.

"He is far more consistent and mature. He knows his own body and what we want from him," the Celtic boss said.

"There are times when he's a little bit lackadaisical still but I think overall the one thing he has found over the past two years has been consistency.

"He's adding goals now as well. I think that's six or seven for the season already. He wants to get 20 -- and it would be great if he could -- but it's what he brings to the team more than anything else which is pretty special.

"There are times when we've played him through the middle, especially in the big games, and he's been exceptional as well. He is using all his attributes and he's a top class footballer.

"He took on the responsibility for the team today and I thought he was the difference."

Adam Matthews was substituted before the break in the win over Kilmarnock but his manager revealed he had no new injury concerns ahead of the Barcelona clash.

"Adam was feeling ill and he was superb until he went off. James Forrest and Beram Kayal are going to train tomorrow so we will get some feedback on them," Lennon said.

"We've no fresh injury worries. In terms of the squad it's good and in terms of psychologically going into the game it gives us a great lift."

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