'Benfica still have a very strong squad' - Lennon

The Northern Irishman believes the Portuguese giants are still to a side to be feared in this season's Champions League despite the recent loss of two of their key men
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has insisted Benfica are still a force to be reckoned with in this year's Champions League, despite selling two of their star players this week.

The Glasgow side qualified for the competition for the first time in four years after defeating Swedish club Helsingsborgs over two legs in the play-off round, and will face the Portuguese giants as well as Spartak Moscow and Barcelona in the group stages.

Benfica kick off their European campaign at Parkhead in two weeks but will do so without Axel Witsel and Javi Garcia, who have recently left for Zenit St. Petersburga and Manchester City respectively.

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But, despite those high-profile exits, the Northern Irishman still believes that Jorge Jesus' men can pose a significant threat.

He told reporters: "They sold two players in the window, Garcia went to Man City, and the other player went for a lot of money as well. They still have a very strong squad though.

"They may be weakened by those sales but they are still a formidable opponent. We are going to take one step at a time so our focus will be Benfica.

"We had them watched at the weekend because they are our first opponents and they won 3-0 against Nacional at home. We might try to get another look at them before we play them.

"We are at home and would really like to win that game and if we could get off to a good start it would really set the rest of the campaign up very nicely."