Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Benfica v Celtic - Preview

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Celtic will be hoping to book their place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League when they travel to Benfica.

Lisbon holds fond memories for the Bhoys, with the Portuguese capital providing the backdrop for their historic European Cup success in 1967.

Victory on Tuesday would secure a top-two finish in Group G and progress to the knockout stage.

A score draw would also see Celtic safely through, with Neil Lennon hoping to avoid leaving things until the final round of fixtures.

Benfica, though, harbour qualification aspirations of their own and know victory on home soil would lift them back above the SPL champions.

A 0-0 draw at Parkhead on Matchday One suggests they have the measure of Celtic, while the Portuguese outfit have prevailed in their three previous home meetings with the Hoops .

Celtic, though, feel almost invincible following their remarkable victory over Barcelona in their last European outfit and will be hoping to draw inspiration from the Lisbon Lions of years gone by.

Benfica playmaker Pablo Aimar is a doubt after he was nowhere to be seen during a training session open to the media on Monday.

However, Maxi Pereira, who has been sidelined by a thigh injury since 7th November, was put through his paces.

Carlos Martins (thigh), Eduardo Salvio (foot), Ezequiel Garay and Enzo Perez also came through the session unscathed and will be in Jorge Jesus' thoughts.

Lennon has revealed that he has doubts over the potential involvement of one senior star, but has refused to reveal the identity of said player.

Scott Brown (hip), Joe Ledley (groin) and Gary Hooper (hamstring) are all nursing knocks.

The trio have, however, made the trip to Portugal and will hope to be involved at some stage.

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