Kick-off: 19:45 (BST)
Celtic manager Gordon Strachan hopes that the growing confidence among his squad can overcome Benfica – in a match that Benfica coach José Antonio Camacho has described as a “man’s game”.
Strachan believes there is an “air of confidence” at Celtic Park going into a match that both sides must win to maintain a realistic chance of progress from Group D.
“We are playing good football which is pleasing on the eye and winning most of the time,” said the manager. “We want to win, that’s the priority. A win for us and Milan [who face Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine] would be perfect.”
The form of Scott McDonald is one cause for optimism, the 24-year-old Australian international forward having taken his tally for the season to 13 with both goals in the 2-1 win over Kilmarnock at the weekend.
Strachan will welcome back fit-again Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink to partner in-form Australian striker Scott McDonald, although the Scot will almost certainly be without Shunsuke Nakamura.
“It would be different if ‘Naka’ was playing inspirational football and everyone else was below their form, but at the moment I have a lot of forward-thinking players who are playing well,” said Strachan.
“Benfica played with two strikers in Lisbon and when they came here last season they had one up front, so we have to prepare the guys to deal with two different systems,” added Strachan. “What they do know is that they’re playing against a good side in Benfica and one of the legendary clubs of European football.”
Camacho, meanwhile, refuses to be drawn on whether fit-again striker Nuno Gomes will start, and is hoping that left-back Leó will shake off a muscle strain picked up in Saturday’s 2-1 Portuguese Liga win at Pacos de Ferreira.
The former Madrid coach expects a physical contest yet does not accept the theory that victory is essential.
“We both want the three points but it won’t be decisive,” said Camacho. “It’s going to be a tough game for Benfica. Celtic are very strong physically and we will have to match them. It’s going to be a hard game, a man’s game, and we will play to win.”