Forget about the league for a moment: winning tonight will ensure that we sleep gently atop a 5 point lead with 3 matches left to play. By no means will qualification be assured, of course, but the trips to Scotland and Russia will become less foreboding. Especially if Spartak and Benfica can manage a draw (for our sake, of course–it’s 2-1 in Russia at the time of writing this).
It’s no easy task to defeat a rampant Celtic side, however. They’re coming off a 5-0 victory on Saturday against St. Mirren and they think they’re underdogs. They top the SPL table and it seems no one believes they can take a point off of Barcelona, much less nab all 3. Yes, they’ve just grabbed the SPL lead and will not relinquish it again, but there’s no Busquets (suspended), no Pique (injured), and no Puyol (injured). Who starts at DM? Who starts at CB? Song and Adriano, one imagines, but we’ll have to see if Bartra and Montoya get the nods.
This is a home match and, as such, it is virtually must-win. This is a match against a good opponent and, as such, it requires full concentration. Any lapses will be dealt with more severely than they were by Depor. The opposing defense will not rupture like a leaky dam. This is going to be tight, this is going to be tough. Celtic is here to play.
We could scream all day about history, about the last time Celtic and Barça met, about the ghost of Henrik Larsson (“I’m not dead yet!” he crows), but really, these are different teams than those. This is today and the historical anecdotes are just that: anecdotes. Play to the whistle, chicos.