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Nous a good time to show your abilities.


CELTIC are telling us they have grown up in European terms and will use their new-found nous to negotiate Wednesday's Champions League tie in Helsinki.

It's easy to try to put a positive spin on things but words tell us nothing. Only actions and results count.

I thought Celtic's campaign in the Europa League last season was good and so were the away performances against Rennes and Udinese.

That will give them confidence but they just have to get through this tie.

I have no doubt teams such as Rennes, Udinese and Atletico Madrid, who Celtic faced in their section last term, are far better than HJK Helsinki.

POSITIVES Celtic's players keep telling us they are better off in terms of experience and knowledge so let's hope they can show it and take a massive step towards the group stages. It's huge for the season ahead.

At the very worst I believe Celtic fans would put up with another Europa League campaign but they were there last season and want something else, the next step.

They know their club has a chance to make the Champions League group stages and it would be a huge disappointment if a team like Helsinki knocked them out.

If it's an Arsenal, a Man United, a Real Madrid or an AC Milan you hold your hands up. But not Helsinki.

Even watching them at Celtic Park, their goal came from home slackness and then a bit of good fortune.

Neil Lennon's team should be sharper this week and that was one of just two positives to take from Saturday's SPL opener at Celtic Park.

The first was getting a win and the second was getting another 90 minutes under the belt. Other than that, there wasn't much else.

The longer the game went on the staler it became and Aberdeen deserved a point.

Going away in a Champions League tie Celtic will have to play a whole lot better and I'm sure they can.

However, while they have a strong chance I'm afraid it's impossible to say the same for Motherwell.

It has gone for them.

Stuart McCall has a young side facing a team of experienced internationals and it showed in the first leg against Panathinaikos.

Motherwell played well but the Greeks still won 2-0 and they'll cause problems in Europe for teams far better than the Fir Park outfit.

INTENSE Dundee United also have a difficult job when they head to Moscow for the second leg of their Europa League tie.

Peter Houston's team were good at Tannadice and were unfortunate not to win.

However, there is often a danger after a tight first leg at home that you can get a level of unreal expectancy.

It always amazes me how some teams in Europe are transformed when you see them on their own patch.

Dynamo came to Scotland, changed their shape and had to perform at a tight ground with an intense atmosphere.

A lot of people said they didn't look all that great. Well, when I hear that I think: "If they're not that great and managed to score two away goals against one of the best teams in the SPL, that's not bad going."

I'm hoping United can get something from the tie but I just can't see them getting through. Unfortunately, I'm really only leaning towards one side making it.

Motherwell are going out and between Celtic and United, Lennon's team have the easier task. Now it's up to them to prove they can finish the job and it's just a case of crossing your fingers and hoping for an unexpected bonus from United in Moscow.

As told to Craig Swan CRUNCH TIME J Lennon
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 6, 2012
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