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UEFA Champions League

Celtic Park 19th September 2012 - Kick off 19:45 Ref: N Rizzoli

Celtic Celtic vs Benfica Benfica

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Celtic v Benfica preview

Bhoys aim for perfect Champions League start against Portuguese visitors

By Jonathan Jurejko.   Last Updated: 19/09/12 11:45am

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Neil Lennon: Admits managing Celtic in the Champions League is a special feeling

Neil Lennon: Admits managing Celtic in the Champions League is a special feeling

SPL champions Celtic return to the group stage of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in four years when they host Portuguese giants Benfica on Wednesday.

Opta facts

  • Celtic's best Champions League performance is a last 16 finish in 2006/07 and 2007/08.
  • Benfica have won the European Cup/Champions League on two occasions, in 1961 and 1962. Only Bayern Munich and Juventus have lost as many finals as the Lisbon side (5).

Boss Neil Lennon, who captained the Hoops to the last 16 in 2006-07, admits leading the Glasgow club in Europe's top club competition is "something special".

But he also realises his team faces a huge task if they can replicate his success as a player by reaching the knockout stage.

Celtic were drawn as fourth seeds in Group G and pitted against Spanish giants Barcelona, Russian outfit Spartak Moscow, as well as Benfica.

Knowing they must eliminate two of their rivals is a daunting prospect for Lennon and his men, but they will be looking to turn Celtic Park into a fortress as they aim to upset the odds.

The Bhoys have only lost two of their 18 home matches in the Champions League group stage.

Home form is again likely to be key to success in their 50th European campaign and beating Lisbon-based Benfica will represent a perfect start.

Of course, the mere mention of Lisbon provokes excitement among Celtic supporters after their legendary 1967 side became the first British team to win the European Cup when they beat Inter Milan in the Portuguese city.

And history is certainly on Celtic's side against Benfica. The Portuguese club have visited Glasgow on three previous occasions and have been defeated by their hosts every time.

But Benfica are a different proposition to the team which Celtic beat 1-0 in their last meeting in November 2007.

Jorge Jesus's side impressed many onlookers as they reached the quarter-finals of last season's competition at the expense of then-Premier League champions Manchester United.

The likes of Argentine winger Nicolas Gaitan and Paraguay striker Oscar Cardozo were two of their driving forces and are likely to be the dangermen for Celtic.

However, the two-time European Cup winners, who lost to eventual champions Chelsea in the last eight, will have to cope without the loss of another key pair if they are to replicate this success.

Midfielders Javi Garcia and Axel Witsel left for Premier League title winners Manchester City and Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg respectively over the summer.

Celtic Badge Celtic

Celtic have Giorgos Samaras (elbow), Anthony Stokes (ankle), Paddy McCourt (groin), Filip Twardzik (groin) and Beram Kayal (ankle) all sidelined.

Joe Ledley (groin) has not trained so is unlikely to feature, but Scott Brown is available despite tweaking a hamstring at the weekend.

Benfica Badge Benfica

Benfica will be without suspended defender Luisão, who was given a two-month ban for assaulting a referee in a pre-season friendly.

Defender Maxi Pereira is also banned, while midfielder Carlos Martins will miss the game through injury. Defender Luisinho has not made the journey to Scotland.

Previous game's starting line-ups

4-4-1-1
  • Gordon 26 Gordon
  • Lustig 23 Lustig

  • Denayer 22 Denayer
  • van Dijk 5 van Dijk
  • Izaguirre 3 Izaguirre

  • McGregor 42 McGregor
  • Brown S 8 Brown S
  • Johansen 25 Johansen
  • Mulgrew 21 Mulgrew
  • Stokes 10 Stokes
  • Guidetti 9 Guidetti

Team taken from Celtic vs Ross County (Scottish Premiership) on Saturday 18th October 2014

4-4-2
  • Artur 1 Artur
  • Pereira M 14 Pereira M
  • Luisao 4 Luisao
  • Lopez 2 Lopez
  • Eliseu 19 Eliseu
  • Samaris 7 Samaris
  • C Anderson Talisca 30 C Anderson Talisca
  • Gaitan 10 Gaitan

  • M Derley 9 M Derley

  • Lima 11 Lima

  • Salvio 18 Salvio

Team taken from Benfica vs Arouca (Portuguese Liga) on Sunday 5th October 2014


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Matches

Tables

UEFA Champions League Group A

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Juventus 2 3
2 Atletico Madrid 2 3
3 Malmo FF 2 3
4 Olympiakos FC 2 3

UEFA Champions League Group B

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Real Madrid 2 6
2 Basel 2 3
3 Liverpool 2 3
4 Ludogorets 2 0

UEFA Champions League Group C

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Zenit St. Petersburg 2 4
2 Monaco 2 4
3 Bayer Leverkusen 2 3
4 Benfica 2 0

UEFA Champions League Group D

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Borussia Dortmund 2 6
2 Arsenal 2 3
3 Anderlecht 2 1
4 Galatasaray 2 1

UEFA Champions League Group E

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bayern Munich 2 6
2 Roma 2 4
3 Manchester City 2 1
4 CSKA Moscow 2 0

UEFA Champions League Group F

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Paris St Germain 2 4
2 Barcelona 2 3
3 Ajax 2 2
4 Apoel Nicosia 2 1

UEFA Champions League Group G

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chelsea 2 4
2 Maribor 2 2
3 Schalke 2 2
4 Sporting Lisbon 2 1

UEFA Champions League Group H

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 FC Porto 2 4
2 BATE Borisov 2 3
3 Shakhtar Donetsk 2 2
4 Athletic Bilbao 2 1

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