Thursday, 20 December 2012

Celtic draw Juventus in last 16

CELTIC have drawn Italian giants Juventus in the last 16 of the Champions League.

After the Scottish champions came through a tough group to finish second, they have drawn the side currently top of Serie A.

Prior to the draw, Celtic could have been matched with Schalke 04, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Manchester United, Malaga and PSG.

Juventus is one of the draws I would have liked to see us avoid, but after beating Barcelona, I guess anything is possible.

Juventus currently sit top of Seria A and have only lost one of their games on the road since May 2011. They also emerged unbeaten from Group E.

Revenge will certainly been on the minds of Johan Mjallby and Neil Lennon.

Chris Sutton scored twice in the 4-3 victory
Celtic made their debut in the Champions League group stages against Juventus in September 2001.
We lost 3-2, the match decided by a controversial penalty awarded to the Italian hosts when Joos Valgaeren was judged to have pulled down Nicola Amoruso. (It was extremely soft!) This was the start of a long run of unlucky defeats in the Champions League. 

Despite only being nine, this is one of the games I remember fondly, as it was so cruel for us to lose. We won the return game at Celtic Park 4-3, which will go down as one of the best European games
ever at Parkhead.

There has been mixed opinions on Twitter following the draw, some people unhappy with the fact Turin is not the nicest place to visit. We will also only be allocated 2,000 tickets for the tie. Though I’m sure thousands more will travel.

This is not the best draw we could have got, but it’s certainly not the worst, and if we can keep a clean sheet at Celtic Park, I can’t see any reason why we can’t progress.

We were written off before the group stages and look how that turned out.

Celtic, under Neil Lennon have adapted brilliantly to playing in Europe, especially on the counter attack. Juventus play a 3-5-2 formation which will lend itself well to the way we play. This leaves me optimistic.

Neil Lennon and co watch the draw 
"In terms of glamour, it's a beauty of a draw," stated Lennon. "Juventus are one of the great European teams, the Italian champions and it's great. It's going to be very tough for us, but we'll take it as it comes and I'm sure our supporters are looking forward to it.

The first leg in Glasgow will be played on Tuesday 12 February, with the return game on 6 March.

Juventus play in a new stadium in Turin - the Juventus Stadium - that replaced the Stadio delle Alpi and opened last summer.

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