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Celtic failed to take advantage of the good start they have made their Champions League group after suffering a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Ajax. Celtic are in the same group containing the likes of Barcelona, AC Milan, and Ajax. This makes them favourites to finish bottom of the group, but they have defied expectations by making a good start. The 1-0 defeat, though, ends any hope of the team qualifying to the last 16 stage, which they did in the unlikeliest of fashion last season. Lasse Schone scored the only goal of the game in this defeat for Celtic.
After the match, Lennon said that he is still confident of qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition, but the Scottish need to achieve a famous win over AC Milan in order to do so. Italian club AC Milan are far from their glory days. They are also in a poor run of form since the start of the season, which has raised questions about the future of manager Massimiliano Allegri. Celtic’s next match in the Champions League will be used Milan after the international break. There is a chance that Allegri could be sacked this time, which will make Celtic as the favourites.
Lennon reckons that it will take only a win over Milan to change the dynamic of group.
“It’s an opportunity lost, but all is not lost. The whole thing could flip again if we beat Milan and Barcelona take something off Ajax. We have to beat Milan now,” said Lennon. “It’s imperative we do that to have any chance of qualification. I think some players will have regrets about the game tonight because they were nowhere near their best. At this level, you can’t have that,” said Lennon after the defeat against Ajax away from home.
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Celtic successfully negotiated the passage into the next round of the UEFA Champions league qualifiers following a 1-0 win over Elfsborg on aggregate. The club managed a 0-0 draw to complete this victory on aggregate. After the match, manager Neil Lennon has said that he is already looking at signing a number of key players in order to strengthen the team. Despite winning the double last season, Celtic have lost key players in the last few weeks. This includes striker Gary Hooper, who has moved to the Premier league with Norwich city. Midfielder Victor Wanyama has joined Premier league club Southampton.
Celtic have a significant amount of transfer fund to spend after these departures and Lennon is looking to replace the stars who have left the club. Wanyama was sold for around £ 12 million, while Hooper got the club a significant transfer fee as well. Celtic have made a couple of signings in this transfer window, but Derk Boerrigter is probably the only first-team player of the lot. The play-offs for the Champions league group stages will be taking place shortly. Celtic will be learning their opponents when the draw is held.
The Scottish club will be confident of having an easy draw because they are in the pot as champions.
“We are going to work hard to get a few players in, the players are running on empty. These qualifiers are tough and we have two games to go before the group stages. It was a huge result. It is nerve wracking at this time. I was nervous all day. It was a tough night, we showed great character. It was a tough game and you have to give credit to Elfsborg, they gave it everything,” said Lennon. Celtic are once again the favourites to win the league title.
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Celtic will not be going round the world as part of a preseason tour, but instead, they will be heading south in order to prepare for the new season. Manager Neil Lennon has welcomed this change by saying that this would help him achieve better results. He is against the policy of world tours as part of the pre-season because it does little to help improve the condition of players. Instead of going round the world on world tours, it would be beneficial if clubs spent their training region nearby.
Celtic enjoyed a lot of success last season and Lennon has put a lot of it down to the pre-season tour they had in rural Germany. Lennon has admitted that going round the world may be better for the club in terms of financial results, but it does not help improve the condition of the players, which is essential over the course of the campaign. Celtic managed to win two major trophies, while also reaching the knockout stages of the Champions league as well. Celtic will once again be returning to the same place where they had their pre-season last time around and Lennon is delighted to be back in Germany.
After being linked with several clubs like Everton over the summer, it looks like Lennon will stay at Celtic for the time being.
“Those tours were productive from a financial point of view but maybe not from a footballing point of view. There was a lot of travelling involved. I remember on one trip we missed four or five days’ worth of training because of the travelling. To be fair to the board, they’ve backed us again by allowing us to return to Germany. This worked for us last season and it got us the results we wanted,” said Lennon.