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Dec 20, 2012

Lennon: Juve tie 'a beauty'

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has hailed his side's Champions League last 16 draw against Juventus as "a beauty" and backed them to push the Italian champions all the way in the race for a place in the quarter-finals.

• UCL last 16 draw in full

Lennon guided his Celtic team through the group phase of the Champions League and he could not hide his excitement when he summed up his feelings on the draw with Sky Sports.

"In terms of glamour, it's a beauty of a draw," stated Lennon. "Juventus are one of the great European teams, the Italian champions and it's great. It's going to be very tough for us, but we'll take it as it comes and I'm sure our supporters are looking forward to it.

"The draw could have been kinder, but it could have been worse as well. It's certainly something to look forward to. We'll have to take some kind of advantage with us to Turin. Celtic Park is very special on a European night and I'm sure they'll raise the roof once again.

"We believe that over two games anything is possible. Juventus have been very consistent over the last 18 months and they have a great winning mentality, but so do we. Our ambition is to go as far as we can in this competition and we believe we can do this."

He added: "It's very exciting for me as a young manager to be in this position. It's come very early in my management career, but I'm going to enjoy it and I wouldn't go along with the idea that Celtic have nothing to lose in this competition.

"There is always pressure when you are Celtic boss. Going back to the Jock Stein era and latterly with Martin O'Neill and Gordon Strachan, the expectation is always massive here."

Pavel Nedved says Juventus "need to face Celtic with great respect" but believes the Bianconeri have an excellent chance of emerging victorious from the tie.

The 40-year-old was speaking in Nyon where he was representing the club in his role as a director and, having been part of the side who played at Celtic Park in 2001, is fully aware of the threat posed by the Scottish Premier League side.

He told Mediaset: "It could have gone a lot worse but we still need to face Celtic with great respect. They were the only team to beat Barcelona and have qualified for the next round with great credit.

"We're on a path of development but many of our players are playing Champions League football for the first time in their careers and will need to be up to the challenge. We'll be stepping into a red-hot atmosphere and will encounter difficulties if we're not fully up to speed.

"We need to match their intensity, hoping that our players have something extra on a technical level. Playing the return leg at home, in front of our public, certainly gives us a slight advantage. If we put in a Juventus style performance then we'll have a good chance of getting through to the next round."

Juventus have faced Celtic on four previous occasions but they've always been beaten in Glasgow, losing 1-0 in 1981 and 4-3 in 2001. However at home the reverse is true as they recorded 2-0 and 3-2 victories in Turin.

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