Lubo will be sky high if Hoops can repeat a great win

Lubomir Moravcik will be high in the air, winging his way to a holiday in South Africa as Celtic take on Juventus tonight.

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Lubo Moravcik believes Celtic are capable of getting a result tonight
Lubo Moravcik believes Celtic are capable of getting a result tonight

His head, though, will be at Celtic Park.

And the former Hoops playmaker has told manager Neil Lennon's side they can replicate the Parkhead pain that the team he was part of inflicted on Juventus in 2001.

Martin O'Neill's team enjoyed one of their finest moments when they beat Juve 4-3 in the final group game of their maiden campaign in the Uefa Champions League. The victory ultimately counted for little more than pride as the Irishman's team failed to progress to the last 16 of the lucrative tournament.

The little Slovakian put in a vintage performance that evening for Celtic but he has insisted the current crop of players can make their own mark in the history books – if they believe in themselves and in each other.

Celtic have never been beyond this stage of the competition and few would back them to overcome the might of the Serie A leaders over two legs. But, as Moravcik was quick to point out, nor did anyone give them much hope when they took on Barcelona earlier this season.

"This Celtic team is a little bit different to my Celtic team," he said. "We had some very big players in the squad – Paul Lambert, Henrik Larsson, Chris Sutton, John Hartson and Alan Thompson. I don't know if the current side is quite as strong in quality as that team.

"But I think they are strong physically, mentally and tactically. Technically they are not as good as we were, but they are good defensively, they are very solid as a unit and they are not an easy team to beat. They have a good spirit about them.

"They can beat Juventus. They have shown what they can do against Barcelona who are the best team in the world.

"They have to believe. They cannot afford to go into the game thinking that they are not capable of it. They need to feel it within themselves and trust one another that they can do it – and they can. To me, they are capable of 1-0 or 0-0. Both would be good."

While many Celtic fans remember the game fondly for the excitement it generated, for the goals, the drama and the very fact that Celtic saw off a Juventus side with Alessandro Del Piero, David Trezeguet, and Pavel Nedved, Moravcik admits to pangs of regret when he recalls the game. Celtic won the match, as they set out to do, but qualification eluded them because Porto pipped them to second place.

Moravcik had spent the week building up to the game preparing mentally and physically, knowing that, at 36, his chances of gracing such a salubrious stage were ebbing away.

Having been told by Martin O'Neill in advance that he'd be lining up against Marcello Lippi's men, Moravcik was determined to take his chance.

"I remember the game well because it was the last big game of my career," he explained. "I still have mixed feelings about it. We played very well against a team who had a lot of quality in it, but we still did not progress.

"We had finished the campaign with nine points but Porto just beat us to the second spot and it was really disappointing not to go through.

"By that stage of my career I was not starting every game. But Martin came to me early in the week and told me he wanted to go with a very offensive side.

"We desperately wanted to win the game and we worked on a very attacking system in training in the build-up to it.

"Martin had said to me I would be in the starting XI and I knew then there was a very good chance I would never start a game as big as that in my career again.

"I took it very seriously. I worked very hard on preparing myself. I knew that Martin trusted me and I wanted to leave my mark on the game. I had waited a long time to play in the Champions League and I had been thrilled that I got the chance to do it.

"But it was strange to get into the dressing room afterwards and know that we had just fallen short of going through."

As he steps into the African heat tomorrow night he will cross his fingers for news of a happier outcome.

retail

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