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Commons fired up for Celtic's Champions League opener

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic midfielder Kris Commons is looking to blitz Benfica with a storming start in their Champions League Group G opener at Parkhead tonight.

The Hoops have reached this stage of European football's elite club competition for the first time in four years and the landscape has become even more technical, methodical and cerebral in that intervening period.

However, Scotland midfielder Commons is looking for the blood and thunder start to the match that has often characterised big nights at Celtic Park.

“I always like it at 100 miles per hour from the first whistle,” he said. “That's just me.

“When the players come out to the music and everyone is at that peak, the fans are itching for you to get that early goal and that's how I like it to be.

“I like to let the other team know they are in for a game in the first 10, 15 minutes.

“I like them to know this is the maximum noise, this is how we play, this is how we are going to pressure you or this is how we are going to settle, and let them know that they are not in for an easy night and see where the game takes us.

“Certainly we can't have 100 miles per hour for 90 minutes, or we wouldn't last.

“But we are looking to stamp our authority on the game early doors, there is nothing like playing at home in the first game to try to give yourself the chance to get points.

“If it is three points then magic — but if not we will be looking to get one and try to get the ball rolling.

“But it will be tough and every single player in our team will have to play at the top of their game for 93, 94 minutes.”

Manager Neil Lennon, hoping that his side have recovered from their shock 2-1 league defeat at St Johnstone at the weekend, recognises the boost a full house at Parkhead can provide for the home side but with some reservations.

“We have to be careful that we don't get picked off if we are going to press Benfica,” said the former Celtic captain.

“But traditionally at home we do like to play a quick tempo.

“It is a quick pitch and it will be watered beforehand but that might suit both teams.

“I think the game will be at a fast pace. What I want to see is the team playing as well as they can,” he added.

“I want to see them express themselves, play the football they know they are capable of and improve on Saturday's performance.”

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