Celtic train less after Champions League matches

Neil Lennon revealed how he and his Celtic players have come to terms with returning to domestic duties following Champions League games by adopting a minimalist approach to training.

Celtic's Giorgos Samaras challenges for the ball with Barcelona's Alex Song. Picture: AP
Celtic's Giorgos Samaras challenges for the ball with Barcelona's Alex Song. Picture: AP

The Hoops have often struggled in the wake of big European nights, evidenced last season when they took one point out of six in the two league games following their clashes with Barcelona.

However, this season Lennon’s side have taken 16 points from six post-Champions League games.

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Saturday’s 2-0 home win over Motherwell, thanks to goals from Anthony Stokes and Kris Commons, came on the back of Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat in the Champions League to Barca at Parkhead and took them top of the Scottish Premiership.

The Celtic boss, who expects Adam Matthews to be out for around three months with a collarbone injury sustained in a hefty first-half challenge by Well skipper Keith Lasley, said: “We have curtailed the training down to a minimum between the games.

“We basically do nothing with them. The only bit of football we had was an eight-a-side game on Friday.

“But they all looked in good condition and in good nick.

“It was an exceptionally good performance against a very good Motherwell team.

“What pleased me more was the energy the team showed considering the demanding night they had on Tuesday.

“The quality of the football was good, we scored two exquisite goals and got a clean sheet as well.

“So I can’t ask for any more. It has been a very good start to the league this year.”

Commons explained the difficulties the Hoops players have coping with the Champions League on top of such a heavy domestic fixture schedule.

“Not only is the Champions League physically demanding, it is also mentally demanding and that is what you have to learn and take experience from,” he said.

“You have to maintain your body to play at such a high level, not only on the Tuesday but also on a Saturday.

“It is difficult to maintain those energy levels throughout the week and perform at your best on the Saturday.

“It was two individual goals but the main thing was the three points.

“From the experience of last year we were a bit lacklustre after Champions League nights so it was good to not only get the victory, but get it the way we did.”

Celtic, though, were not asked too many questions by a subdued Motherwell side which had John Sutton playing as a lone striker.

Manager Stuart McCall said: “We know they are a good side if you sit off them but I felt we gave them a little bit too much respect early on in the game.

“We went with 4-1-4-1 and had a lot of possession before the break without creating great chances or getting a shot on goal.

“But it was sloppy play for their second goal which killed us.”