Neil Lennon on Europa League importance to Celtic

By Hamish Carton

October 24, 2019

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has taken a subtle dig at upcoming Europa League opponents Lazio.

The Hoops host the Serie A giants in Glasgow on Thursday night but there is speculation that a fair few of the visitors’ ‘big-hitters’ may not be playing. The likes of Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic could both be rested ahead of the trip to Fiorentina on Sunday.

And while Lennon didn’t publicly criticise the Rome side for taking the competition lightly, he did proclaim that he would never do likewise with Celtic.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“The league is the priority for us too – there is no question about that,” Lennon told the Daily Record. “But we want to be successful on all fronts and European football is important.

“The players have earned the right and worked hard in the games coming off close season – they’ve played really, really well in Europe so far.

“They have the makings of a very good team at this level and maybe beyond as well. It’s step by step.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

“We have Aberdeen on Sunday and that’s a huge game for us in the context of the league. But our first priority at the moment is just to put on a good performance on Thursday night. It’s really important for the club’s reputation. It’s important for the fans and for the players as well.”

Lazio’s Europa League mindset is bizarre

Lazio’s thinking in the Europa League is pretty bizarre. Yes, your domestic league is always your bread and butter, but European competition is a welcome reward for your domestic endeavours.

Lazio’s Coppa Italia win last season granted them a shot at the Europa League that they would not normally have had.

(Photo by Silvia Lore/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

They’re unlikely to finish in the top four in Serie A – with the likes of Juventus, Napoli and a resurgent Inter Milan around – so Europa League qualification is probably their best hope.

They’re in that very competition right now so why not make a fist of it this season rather than focus on making it next year? It’s a bizarre mindset and one that would be almost impossible to comprehend in Scotland.