Portuguese promise Parkhead-like passion
Benfica coach Jorge Jesus warned Celtic to expect a display of Portuguese passion to match anything at Parkhead in tonight’s Champions League clash at the Stadium of Light.
Jesus was impressed with the atmosphere at Celtic Park when his side battled to a goalless draw in their Group G opener in September.
With two games remaining Benfica have to beat Neil Lennon’s side to have any hope of getting through to the knockout stages of the competition and the Eagles coach is confident that the home fans will drive his players on to victory. “There is a great atmosphere at Celtic Park, it is an example to all clubs,” he said. “All clubs should have that passion for football and that passion for the players but tomorrow they are going to play at our stadium and it has a similar atmosphere.
“Celtic fans sing ‘you’ll never walk alone’ and tomorrow Benfica won’t walk alone, we will have our supporters helping us.
“Celtic are now stronger away from home but they are very balanced, they are strong at home as well.
“They are better positioned to win right now but we have three teams who are on the same level, Celtic, Benfica and Spartak but Benfica have the chance to move forward tomorrow and that’s what we will do.”
After their remarkable 2-1 win over Barcelona at Parkhead earlier in the month, the Scottish champions are two points behind the Catalan giants with seven points from four games.
Benfica are in third place on four points while Spartak Moscow are bottom with three. Jesus admits Celtic’s remarkable win over Barca was not in his script.
He said: “It is true that Celtic have been a surprise, especially in the win against Barca, it messed the numbers a bit.
“But Celtic is a team with a lot of value, although tomorrow is still open. They will probably not defend as deeply as they did against Barcelona, but they will be defensive and explore opportunities from free-kicks and corners, that’s where they can surprise us. Football is like that, a team like Barcelona can have 80 per cent possession then lose the game, but that doesn’t happen frequently.”
Lennon picked out Melgarejo as one player to look out for but the Paraguayan left-back did not take the flattery too seriously, as he denied that Europa League place was Benfica’s most realistic target. He said: “It is very nice to hear another coach say good things. It’s going to be hard to qualify for the last 16 but Benfica is a big team who thinks big.”
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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