Paul Parker

Juventus far too strong for Celtic

Paul Parker

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Celtic have done fantastically well to reach the last 16 of the Champions League, but if you were to ask me if they have any chance of causing an upset against Juventus I'd have to be honest and say - no, not really.

If you look at Juventus' form over the last few seasons you will see that they have barely lost a match. They are well organised and are the trend-setters in an Italian league that is starting to rise again.

Defensively they look like they did in their glory days, and in Andrea Pirlo they have one of the best midfield players in the world – a man who AC Milan got rid of far too early. They are also very dangerous up front.

Celtic did extremely well against Barcelona, but I think that match-up suited them. We have seen in the past that you can stop Barcelona if you play negatively, and that is what Celtic did. We saw the same tactic work for Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final last season.

But Juventus are an entirely different proposition: they are more organised and balanced and I just don't see how Celtic are going to be able to get through them over the course of two legs.

Celtic managed to raise their game considerably against Barcelona, but you can't expect them to be able to just rediscover that magic – that's not how football works.

Neil Lennon's men just don't play enough big games, and the fact that they no longer even have their four matches a year against Rangers makes you wonder whether they will have had enough of a competitive edge in the last few months to properly prepare for this next game.

The Parkhead faithful do offer tremendous support, but I think Juventus will be too experienced to let that bother them. They went to Stamford Bridge in the group stage, which can be as nasty an atmosphere as you can come across, and they silenced the Chelsea supporters.

Chelsea thought they had that match done and dusted, but Juve came back strong to earn a 2-2 draw and they maybe should have even gone on and won that match.

The Celtic fans are superb, they are true die-hards and they will give everything they can to try and help their team as they always have done in the past. They will still salute their heroes even if they lose the game.

However, as a team, they are nowhere near the level of Juve and you can't expect them to be either given that they play in the Scottish League – especially now that they've lost their rivalry with Rangers, which kept the league going.

There is not enough in that league to lift them on a weekly basis and you can't just switch on and off in between matches.

You need to be playing big games regularly to keep you on your toes and that is what Juventus have in Serie A - I just can't see Celtic being anywhere near as sharp as the Italians over the two legs.

Celtic just have too many things they need to worry about defensively before they can even think about what they are going to do themselves. At home, most teams would want to be on the front foot, but Celtic won't want to be in that position because if they are they'll be picked off.

I expect them to play quite deep to try and stop Pirlo putting balls in behind the back four, so I fully expect Juve to have lots of possession and to control the game.

For me, I think you have to say Juventus are potential Champions League winners. If you asked me two years ago if I could have seen an Italian side winning the Champions League, I would have said no, but Italian football is on the way back and Juventus are the country's best team.

If Chelsea can win the Champions League, then Juventus definitely can too.

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