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Messi: Celtic fans deserve last-16 spot

By Football News

Barcelona star Lionel Messi believes Celtic fans deserve to see their club progress to the last 16 of the Champions League.

The Argentina international has been in stunning form for the La Liga side this season, and is only one goal away from equalling Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals for club and country in a single calendar year.

And the Hoops will be hoping that the 25-year-old is able to make the record his own during Barcelona's game against Benfica, with the Portuguese side level on points with the Scottish outfit but boasting a better head-to-head record, while Celtic will have to beat Spartak Moscow to have any hope of reaching the next round.

"We have not always been supportive of the way that Celtic try and play football," Messi said.

"However, their fans deserve the knockout stages of the Champions League as I think the competition would be a quieter place without them."

Despite changing his entire line-up prior to Wednesday's key match, manager Neil Lennon felt his players were wasteful after second division side Arbroath forced a Scottish Cup fourth-round replay at the weekend, and has called on his players for a vast improvement.

"(We are) missing too many easy chances at home for my liking," Lennon said.

"It will be no reflection on Wednesday whatsoever. Players will be fully focused and we will be hoping for a different scoreline."