Celtic host Spanish giants Barcelona in the penultimate game of Group C in the Champions League on Wednesday evening desperately in need of a victory to keep their European campaign alive.
The Catalan side ruthlessly dismantled The Hoops in the reverse fixture back in September and Brendan Rodgers will undoubtedly be looking for a much-improved performance. Celtic currently sit bottom of Group C and defeat, possible even a draw, would not be enough to keep them in the race for Europa League qualification. Meanwhile, Barcelona have a point to prove after Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City team secured a comfortable victory over the Spanish champions in their previous European fixture and will having dropped two points at home to mid-table Malaga over the weekend in La Liga.
However, despite the apparent gulf in quality between the two teams, Celtic have got previous history with their opponents. In 2012 they secured a historic victory against Barcelona at Celtic Park and having already held Manchester City to a draw you would not put it past The Hoops to cause another upset on home soil.
Celtic have been completely dominant in domestic competitions since the arrival of Brendan Rodgers in the summer and currently sit well clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership. The Hoops have already amassed a ten point advantage over second-placed Aberdeen, and also have a game in hand, and have won all of their last seven fixtures in Scottish competitions without conceding a goal. However, Rodger’s team have been inconsistent in Europe this season and, although they have lost just one match on home soil this campaign, it will be a tough ask to see off the Catalan giants.
Luis Enrique’s side undoubtedly possess an abundance of talent, especially in the final third of the pitch, but have been quite inconsistent so far this season. Barcelona’s goalless draw at the weekend means that they have already dropped ten points so far this campaign in La Liga and currently sit four points behind leaders Real Madrid who are unbeaten. Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi and Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta have both been dogged by injuries this season which has added to the difficulties at the Nou Camp but both should be fit to face Celtic in mid-week.
Brendan Rodgers has no new injury concerns heading into mid-week. Young full-back Kieran Tierney is a long term absentee due to a knee injury whilst Dedryck Boyata is expected to retain his place in Celtic’s defensive backline after he was recalled and helped to keep a clean sheet in the victory against Kilmarnock.
Louis Suarez missed Barcelona’s game at the weekend due to a suspension but is expected to go straight back into the starting eleven at Celtic Park. Lionel Messi also missed the goalless draw against Malaga due to illness but returned to training on Monday and is expected to feature. Jeremy Mathieu, Andres Iniesta and Samuel Umtiti have all been side-lined through injury.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
Celtic Predicted Starting XI
Barcelona Predicted Starting XI
Celtic Park is always a difficult place to visit as an opposition player, even more so under the floodlights on a European night in what is bound to be a barnstorming atmosphere. However, Barcelona are reeling from their draw at the weekend and will be boosted by the return of Louis Saurez and Lionel Messi. The Catalan giants will be victorious, but only just.
Predicted Score: Celtic 0, Barcelona 2
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