Lennon: Samaras key to beating Barcelona

The Hoops boss believes the Greek forward has to perform if the club are to replicate last season’s success over the Spanish giants and kick-start their Champions League campaign
Celtic manager Neil Lennon believes the performance of Georgios Samaras will be key to determining the outcome of their Champions League clash against Barcelona.

The 28-year-old netted three goals in last season's group stages, including a strike at the Camp Nou, and already has six goals in all competitions for the Scottish champions this term.

And fresh from netting a hat-trick at the weekend against Kilmarnock, Lennon has highlighted the importance of the Greece international playing well against the current La Liga leaders.

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"He is hugely influential at times in these European games," Lennon told reporters. “He enjoys the arena, he enjoys the challenge that these games bring.

"You all saw on Saturday what a talent he is and when he plays like that he is very difficult to stop.

"I hope that he hasn't peaked too early because I feel that to get something out of the game I need Samaras to have a big game.

"In the Nou Camp, before he went off injured, he was causing Barcelona lots of problems and I am hoping for more of the same tonight."

Lennon is also hoping Fraser Forster will play to his capabilities in goal, adding: "What you need against Barcelona is a fair amount of luck if you want things to go well way on the night and you need your goalkeeper to play very well.

"And in Fraser Forster I have got one of the best goalkeepers in the competition."