Sparta Prague striker Lukas Julis has stated that he’s read about the pressure on Neil Lennon, but believes Celtic will simply be fired up because of it.
The Hoops take on Prague in tonight’s Europa League clash in the Czech Republic. Anything other than a win and the club’s Europa League hopes will be dead and buried. Celtic need to win their last three matches in the group to have any chance of qualification.
Sparta have had their own problems in recent weeks after back-to-back defeats in the Czech First League. This has led to former greats of the club coming out and saying the manager is fighting for his job (Scottish Sun).
However, Julis knows all about the pressure currently on Lennon too after his hat-trick against the Hoops at Parkhead. And speaking to local outlet CT Sport, the striker said the following:
“They tied at the weekend and I read that the coach has it on the edge. So they will fight for the coach and it will not be an easy match. In addition, they were already dangerous at home and they didn’t surrender.
“Ourselves and Celtic only played two matches since, so there’s no reason not to believe we can beat them after such little time. I believe I’m in shape and I’ll score a goal. I played one of my best matches in Europe in Scotland, so I rank it very high.
“We have to improve mainly the defence. We had two days to do it and I believe it worked out. I was over the loss to Budějovice on Monday, and I have had my head set for Celtic since Tuesday. In addition, we now have nine matches in a month, so there is no point in thinking about what we did not succeed in.”
A tale of two under-fire managers
It looks to be that Lennon and Sparta counterpart Vaclav Kotal are in the same boat with regards to pressure. Both could do with a win tonight, and a defeat could do irreparable damage to both.
Of course, that’s not to say that Prague are going to look like a team under pressure. We were embarrassed enough in the 4-1 meeting at Celtic Park that we have absolutely no right to underestimate anyone.
Julis is a prime example of a player that went totally under the radar heading into the clash several weeks ago. Yet he proved the difference with a stunning hat-trick. He’ll feel confident about doing something similar tonight.
It’s also worth mentioning that both sides can still progress from the group stage despite stronger starts from both Lille and AC Milan. Tonight’s game will be used as a springboard for either to tackle the group’s two big guns.
However, a win in Prague tonight doesn’t heal much from a Celtic perspective. The main focus this season will always be the Premiership, and until some more ground is made up in that competition, there will always be a sense of panic and concern around Parkhead.
So let’s see what tonight brings. Hopefully, Prague’s knowledge of Lennon’s situation could lead to some complacency on their own end.