Celtic boss Lennon says Milan 'won't be easy'
Bhoys chief will not be taking italians for granted despite their poor recent form
NEIL Lennon insists there is no chance of Celtic underestimating the threat of AC Milan as his side prepare to face their biggest European game of the season.
The Italians head into the Champions League clash on the back of poor league form, which has seen them fail to win their last five matches and head to Glasgow in a lowly 13th position in Serie A.
The run of results has seen pressure mount on coach Massimiliano Allegri but Lennon does not believe it is necessarily the ideal time to play the Rossoneri as Celtic aim to keep their own last 16 hopes alive.
The Hoops boss said: "They could be a wounded animal and that's always a dangerous proposition no matter who you face.
"They'll have their pride. They have some world-class players, players who are class acts and who have been at the top level of the game for a concerted period of time.
"If anyone thinks that we are underestimating them and think it's a really good time and think it's going to be a comfortable home win, they'll have to think again. This team is dangerous." He added: "They might have to prove a point to their own supporters, I don't know.
"I don't think they've got anything to prove to anyone else around the world, who think they are a top-class team.
"They've beaten us, they've drawn with Barca, they've drawn away in Amsterdam, so their results in the group have been solid.
"They know if they win, they've got a great chance of going through themselves.
"Maybe that will be the springboard for them to improve domestically but that's not my concern.
"My whole focus at the minute is on how we play and getting the great support that we always get here. It should be another great night."
The Scottish champions sit bottom of Group H but a win over Milan – combined with Barcelona denying Ajax victory – would see them move into second spot.
As far as Lennon is concerned, tonight's clash is now one of the biggest games of the season.
He said: "Certainly in the context of the Champions League it is. It's a game we have to win to have any chance of qualifying.
"It's a great game for the players to be involved in. We have performed very well in the group apart from the first half in Amsterdam so I want that to continue on Tuesday.
"I don't think we need much incentive or motivation for the game. We are playing against a very good side, despite what their recent league form is maybe showing.
"I watched their game on Saturday and they dominated the game against Genoa (1-1 draw) and were unfortunate not to win.
"Some of the football they played, and the tempo they played at, was of a very high calibre."
Lennon says home advantage, as much as a positive performance in Milan in September despite the 2-0 defeat, will give his players extra confidence.
He said: "The cause for optimism is that we are at home. Our home form is very good.
"We have played very well against Barcelona, we beat Ajax, and that gives me a lot of encouragement for this game.
"The fact that it's probably win or bust for us in terms of the competition may give the players that extra oomph going into the game."
He added: "I don't think I'm feeling pressure at all. I will try to transform that to the players as well.
"I don't want any nerves or anxiety, even though it's a natural state to be in.
"You get the tension before games like this but it's a nice tension, it's not an anxious one.
"We've got nothing to lose and everything to gain and it's a great position to be in."
Meanwhile, Lennon has no concerns over the mindset of Kris Commons (pictured) after it was reported the midfielder was burgled.
He said: "It can be traumatic but Kris being the strong-minded individual that he is has brushed it off.
"It's not a nice thing for him or his family to have to suffer but looking at him today and speaking to him yesterday, his focus now is on the game."
Former Celtic striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink believes the contrast in support experienced by Lennon's players and their AC Milan counterparts could be a crucial factor.
Several hundred angry Milan fans blockaded the players in the San Siro on Saturday night after their 1-1 draw with Genoa, during which Mario Balotelli missed a penalty, before being pacified by Kaka and Christian Abbiati.
Hours earlier, the Celtic players were cheered off after their late win over Aberdeen and Vennegoor of Hesselink knows that such backing can inspire players on European nights.
The Dutchman, who played against Milan three times for Celtic, said: "Celtic got a boost with the late win against Aberdeen and that's good for the confidence. Milan are struggling a bit in the league and had to calm down the supporters at the weekend.
"There is a little bit of crisis. When you have a crisis, there are things in the paper and it's not good for confidence."