‘Realistically, it is going to be very difficult for Celtic to beat Lazio in Italy’ admits Neil Lennon

Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
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Neil Lennon wants Celtic to end an unwanted record when they take on Lazio in Rome tonight.

The Scottish champions have not won in 12 trips to 
Italy, with three draws and nine defeats ahead of their Europa League clash at the Stadio Olimpico.

Callum McGregor has signed a new five-year contract with Celtic. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

Callum McGregor has signed a new five-year contract with Celtic. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

The Scottish champions beat Lazio 2-1 at Parkhead last month and are top of Group E with seven points from three fixtures and now the Celtic manager is eager to win on 
Italian soil.

“Realistically, it is going to be very difficult to win here,” admitted Lennon. “Records are there to be broken.

“We are going to have to play very well and take our chances if and when they should arise.

“We know we probably won’t dominate possession the way we would do normally in home games and we are going to have to show a huge amount of concentration and quality.

“In the context of the group it is such an important game. And there is so much quality on show.

“It is my first time in Rome taking a team so it is a game we are very excited about and very motivated for.”

Asked if the win against Lazio had given him confidence for the return match, the former Celtic midfielder said: “It was a classic game. Both teams played really well.

“We were winners on the night but we know how difficult the game is going to be.

“Lazio’s form of late has been really good. They had another great victory in the San Siro [against AC Milan] on Sunday so we are under no illusions how big the job is, to come here and try to get a result.

“But the players are also on great form, they have played very well domestically and obviously currently top the [Europa League] group.

“We know that can change very quickly, but we are here to try to get a positive result and there is good belief amongst us to do that.

“In terms of the safety of the fans, we just want them to come and have a celebration, enjoy themselves.

“The atmosphere at Celtic Park when Celtic played Lazio was fantastic, the game was fantastic so we expect more of the same.”

Lennon expressed delight that midfielder Callum McGregor’s new five-year deal was confirmed before the 
players flew out from Glasgow.

He said: “He has been absolutely sensational over the last three or four seasons in terms of consistency, level of 
performance, game intelligence and his robustness.

“I think last season he played 69 games and you can count on one hand the poor performances.

“In my second spell here he has been absolutely wonderful.

“We knew there would be suitors for him so I am absolutely delighted, for the board backing me on this one, giving Callum the contract we think he deserves.

“Now the player can really settle and keep writing his own history at the club because he has done some great things already.”

Celtic will be without a clutch of players against Lazio.

Right-back Jeremie Frimpong drops out of the squad as he was not registered for European competition.

Striker Vakoun Issouf Bayo is out for several weeks with a knee injury while Tom Rogic, Mikey Johnston, Leigh Griffiths and Boli Bolingoli did not travel.

Jozo Simunovic and Daniel Arzani both remain sidelined with knee injuries.