Put aside your caber-tossing and hammer-throwing and whistle in your sheep dog, for it’s time to hunker down in front of TV screens and computer monitors to watch our team play in Glasgow. Pour yourself a wee dram, if it helps to calm the nerves.
A 60% chance of rain. 8 degrees Celsius. Football gods – do you know how much our boys hate the rain and cold? They’re from Barcelona. Maybe it’s just a way of evening up the odds.
In his press talks over the past couple of days, Tito Vilanova has stressed the ramifications of this game by stating, “This is possibly the most important game that we have left this year.”
A win means that Barça will secure a knock-out round position – provided that Spartak doesn’t beat Benfica at the Estádio da Luz tonight.
A win means that the remaining 2 matches in the CL group round can, and will, be played with B Team players if Tito has his way.
Tonight’s match is a part of the anniversary celebrations for Celtic Football Club’s 125th year. As such, the stadium mosaic will reflect the club’s proud history, and the stadium will be packed with close to 60,000 Celtic fans. Only 700 Barça fans have officially travelled to the game.
Rod Stewart and Sean Connery are among the notable Scotsmen who will be in attendance. (Please pause to spare a thought for our fellow culé, Jim, who had to give up his match ticket to instead be present at his school’s parent/teacher reviews. Now that’s professional dedication!) The club is also taking a massive 360° multi-billion pixel image of the stadium tonight, and is inviting the attending fans to tag themselves in the image once it’s posted on the Celtic website.
The home team has a lot of reasons for wanting to win this one, with perhaps the biggest motivation being more points to possibly seal their progression into the next Champions League round.
Blaugrana Past Results at Celtic Park
Barça has played 4 times in the Glasgow stadium. In 1964, they drew 0-0 in the 2nd round of the UEFA Cup. In 2004 (UEFA Cup Round 16), Celtic won 1-0 and bundled Barça out of the competition.
In 2005/06, Rijkaard’s team won 1-3 with goals by Deco, Giuly and Larsson in the UEFA Group stage. In 2007/08, in the knock-out stage, Barça again won a tight affair 2-3 with 2 goals by Messi and 1 by Henry.
Expect Tito to put out the strongest team that he can field. The midfield is missing Busquets who is serving the second of his 2-game red card suspension. Tonight could also see the return of Piqué.
Let’s hope that Tito’s words of warning about Celtic’s strengths being set pieces and quick counters have been drummed into the brains of Barça’s defence, and that fast and low shots at goal undo Fraser Forster.
What do I know, but my predicted line-up would be:
VV, Alves, Bartra, Masch, Alba
Xavi, Song, Iniesta
Pedro/Tello/Cesc?, Messi, Villa
Bench: Pinto, Montoya, Piqué, Song, Sergi, Alexis
Perhaps Cesc won’t be getting a start for the first time this season.
Still on the injured list are: Puyol, Adriano, Thiago, Cuenca, Muniesa and Abidal.
Click here to convert the match time to your timezone: Celtic vs. FC Barcelona
“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley.
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy! ~ Robert Burns “Ode to a Mouse”
Messi will be looking for the opportunity to celebrate Thiago’s arrival by pulling that pacifier out of his sock: