Lennon makes it clear what he expects from AIK against Celtic
Neil Lennon has opened up on the way he expects visitors AIK to shape up and play tonight, The Daily Record report.
The reigning Swedish champions visit Celtic Park hoping to cause an upset and reach the group stages of the UEFA Europa League.
Like the Hoops, they were part of the UEFA Champions League qualifying route.
They were dumped out by Maribor in the second qualifying round, before making it through against Sheriff in the third qualifying round of this competition.
Currently third in their domestic league after 20 matches, they come into this one having lost their most recent match at home to Kalmar.
Lennon is taking nothing for granted. He’s expecting an organised and robust side at Paradise tonight.
As quoted by The Daily Record, he said: “They are a strong team, they play 3-5-2, and like all Swedish teams they have a good mentality, they are rigid.
“They are good at set-plays and have Seb Larsson who had a good career in Britain and is a great Swedish international player.
“They won the league last year so it isn’t going to be a walk in the park.”
Celtic’s path to victory
With AIK likely looking to protect themselves defensively first and foremost, the onus will be on Celtic to be aggressive and ambitious from the off to try and break them down.
Lennon is expecting three central defenders. Two wide midfielders/wing-backs will likely be on hand to drop and protect their flanks too.
That will mean there could be limited space at the back if the Hoops are too patient with their play. It’s vital that Celtic are quick in the transition from being out of possession to progressing attacks.
Getting the ball early to likely starters James Forrest and Mikey Johnston will be key. That could help expose them in traditional full-back positions, getting in behind to cause real problems. Both players have looked our most dangerous players at times this season.
With Ryan Christie also available to help stretch them centrally, we have a three-pronged attacking midfield that should have the quality to succeed.
Clearly, our defending needs to be up to par too, with Lennon noting specifically their threat from set-pieces.
Hopefully the Hoops are entirely on the ball tonight, preventing any of the drama we witnessed last Tuesday.
A big performance is needed.