Celtic’s Champions league group this year safely slotted into the ‘group of death’ territory, but it still promised some great nights at Celtic Park.
The 3-3 draw against Manchester City was more memorable for Brendan Rodgers’ men than the 2-0 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach, and now the final home tie comes around with Barcelona visiting.
Qualifying from the group would require snookers, but the Europa League place is still a reasonable possibility.
Barcelona travel to Celtic after a disappointing 0-0 match against Malaga at the weekend and there’s been worry about the health of several players.
Mundo Deportivo’s cartoonist illustrated today just how decimated Barcelona could be, although it’s looking at the worst case scenario.
Unfortunately for Celtic, Mundo Deportivo believe Luis Enrique will put out the strongest team he can, to wrap everything up for Barcelona. With Andreas Iniesta, Samuel Umtiti and Jérémy Mathieu out injured, the manager’s choices are more limited.
Enrique is confident both will start the match, but the Catalan press are still nervous, sounding genuinely afraid about what happens if there’s no Pique.
Sport believe that Enrique will be able to call on Pique and Messi, and their predicted team is almost identical to that of Mundo Deportivo, the only difference being Sport pick Andre Gomes over Rafinha.
There’s no surprises among Barcelona’s stars, but it’s believed Neymar will be especially keen to do well, having been kicked around Celtic Park by Scott Brown previously, and having a 5 game goal drought.
As for what the Barcelona media think of Celtic’s team, it’s of course Moussa Dembele who has been receiving the most attention, but Scott Sinclair has got a look in too. Celtic’s style under Brendan Rodgers is believed to be more suited to Barcelona, and less intimidating physically than previous incarnations of Celtic.
The view from the Barcelona press
Pol Ballús, a journalist for Catalan newspaper Sport, told Sport Witness that whilst Celtic have a chance, it’s not exactly the best time to be facing Luis Enrique’s men: “I think Celtic of course have a chance to get some result against Barcelona. Football is not a logical science and anything can happen.
“However, I think now it’s a particularly tough moment to play against Barcelona. They lost the game at the Etihad and had a draw in the last league game against Malaga so winning at Celtic Park is definitely necessary for the team.
“The main reason is to keep the first position of the group stage safe. But Barcelona will also want to regain confidence in their game.”
Barcelona’s wounded tiger will be entering the lion’s den at Celtic Park (see what we did there), and there’s a great deal of respect for Celtic fans in Spain: “Celtic Park’s atmosphere is really famous in Barcelona, as well as everywhere in the world.
“Moreover, Barcelona has some great European memories in that stadium, and that makes it even more special. The 2-3 in 2008 was a fantastic game. I think visiting Celtic Park is a good opportunity for Barça fans to enjoy a unique football atmosphere in the world.”
Barcelona are bringing 1,400 fans to Celtic Park for the occasion.