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Lennon and Celtic mindful of 'dangerous' Spartak

Tuesday 4 December 2012 20.45 CET
Celtic train at their Lennoxtown base on the eve of the match

Neil Lennon is wary of the threat that a "dangerous" FC Spartak Moskva team could pose to Celtic FC's hopes of qualifying for the last 16 from UEFA Champions League Group G. The Hoops, in third place, face a club who recently dismissed their coach and have nothing but a "huge amount of pride to play for" at Celtic Park.

Celtic must pick up more points than SL Benfica do at FC Barcelona to overtake the Portuguese side.

Spartak are out of Europe.

Celtic
Neil Lennon, manager
I'm not concerned what other teams are doing in the competition [resting players] – I'm concerned about my team and I'm sure the players they [Spartak] will bring in are quality.

At the beginning, no one gave us a chance, people didn't give us points, but here we are. We feel we have a decent chance to go on, but Spartak will have a huge amount of pride to play for and they'll be very dangerous. They don't have any pressure, they have flamboyance, and we'll need to defend well. The game will be open.

I prepared the team the best I could. I want to win the game and then that'll mean Benfica need to win too. That's all we can do: play as well as we can. Our players will have their own focus regardless of the result of the other match. It's a big enough task without thinking of the results. If ten points get us through, then fantastic. Regardless of the outcome, we'll have European football after Christmas anyway, which was one of the targets.

The [Scottish] championship was the first objective. We've progressed since then. We qualified for the Champions League and we hope to take that on in the new year. We made rapid progress in spite of what people may have thought.

Weekend result
Saturday: Celtic 1-1 Arbroath FC (Keddie og 36; Doris 87)
Załuska; Matthews, Rogne, Ambrose, Chalmers (Izaguirre 54); McGeouch, Brown (Kayal 64), Wanyama, Ibrahim; Watt (Nouioui 79), Fedor.

• Joe Chalmers and Rabiu Ibrahim made their first competitive starts for Celtic as a team showing nine changes from the side that beat Heart of Midlothian FC 4-0 in the Premier League in midweek were held by third-tier Arbroath in the Scottish Cup fourth round. Celtic have gone three home games without a win for the first time since November/December 2010.

Team news
Victor Wanyama serves a one-match ban, while Pat McCourt, James Forrest (both hamstring) and Dylan McGeouch are out. Thomas Rogne (calf) and Emilio Izaguirre (hamstring) are available, though, after returning on Saturday.

Spartak
Valeri Karpin, caretaker coach
We are not going to experiment against Celtic, we still consider it a serious game. This is no place for experiments, except maybe two or three new players. We have a lot to prove and it is up to the players to prove they are up to the challenge. They will show their worth tomorrow. In any case, our defensive problem is not down to the defenders only, the defensive problem comes from the whole team.

I would not say I am surprised [to see Celtic do well]. Celtic are a top-quality team. But in this tournament, one little thing can decide a game. For instance, Celtic were unlucky to lose in the last minute against Barcelona. I am not surprised by Celtic but one incident can change a lot.

Weekend result
Friday: Spartak 2-4 FC Zenit St Petersburg (Dzyuba 26, Emenike 81; Hulk 21, Witsel 41 70, Shirokov 78)
Dykan; Pareja, Suchý, K Kombarov, D Kombarov; Jurado, Carioca, Ananidze (McGeady 66), Källström (Insaurralde 72); Emenike, Dzyuba.

• Nicolas Pareja (69) and Juan Insaurralde (90+3) were sent off as Karpin's first game as interim coach ended in disappointment. Spartak have suffered three successive defeats, conceding 12 goals in that time.

Team news
Aiden McGeady returned on Friday after six weeks out with a foot injury, while Sergei Parshivlyuk is back in training as he steps up his recovery from a knee problem sustained in the summer. Sergei Pesyakov (broken metatarsal), Welliton (collarbone), Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (abdominal injury), Romulo (knee) and Soslan Gatagov (knee) are all absent.

Match fact
• Celtic are looking to complete their first double over opponents in the UEFA Champions League. The Glasgow club's 3-2 triumph over Spartak at the Stadion Luzhniki on 2 October was their first away victory in 21 attempts in the modern-day competition.

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