There Is No Such Uncertainty As A Sure Thing

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.

 

Celtic’s Party
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.

 

Tonight’s Barça
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

Streams for the match are usually found here, here and here.

 

“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:


 

 

333 comments

  1. My squad would probably be:

    Valdes
    Montoya, Bartra, Mascherano, Alba
    Xavi Song Fabregas
    Pedro Messi Alexis

    Bench: Pinto, Pique, Alves, Sergi, Iniesta, Villa, Tello

    Oier and JDS left out.

    I think Sanchez gets the nod up front if I’m in charge today, simply because of his work rate and ability to defend – two key qualities away in Europe.

    I choose Montoya over Alves as I’m still not convinced that Alba and Alves together is a good choice away from home in Europe, especially with Pique and Puyol still out of the lineup.

    It’s hard to leave Iniesta out, but the way Fabregas is playing I just wouldn’t be able to bench him. Xavi is absolutely mandatory for this match.

    1. I’d like to see Ini sit this one too, but I was too chicken to leave him out!

      Cesc definitely plays better without him on the pitch.

      If Alexis plays, it will be for his defence – same as Pedro. The two just have to learn to do the work upfront too. Without Villa, that only really leaves Messi as the scorer and Cesc to back him up unless Pedro and Alexis pull fingers and shoot.

  2. Just wanted to thank you for the excellent previews you have been providing us with, nzm..I have been a reader of this blog for a long time and see it evolve over the period of time..Find this match posts insightful and links useful..

    Cheers!

  3. -great review
    -alexis may start and messi will get a goal
    -song scores a thunderous goal via a fabregas assist or vice versa
    -ben hayward of goal.com reads this blog coz his latest editorial abt alexis goes in line with what “I” said then (remember that “maybe messi is the problem” comment???)
    – a manita is on the cards as they would wanna attack us head on(i wish)
    -messi assists villa and ends all query of messi-villa feud
    -messi gets an hat trick and thiago is born(again)
    -xavi gets injured and roberto gets his chance
    -still no iniesta (tito what d fuck!)

    1. You’re seriously wanting Sergi to get his chance through Xavi getting injured? What’s up with that line of thinking?

  4. Unfortunately no liveblog today as I have class (the learning type, not the attend debutant balls type).

    This weekend though, I’ll be liveblogging up a storm.

  5. what does it take for a fully recovered-40Mil-in form player in el guaje to get consecutive starts?

  6. (official):
    Valdes
    Alves Bartra Mascherano Alba
    Xavi Song Iniesta
    Pedro Messi Alexis

    fairly predictable…gonna look like 2 at the back quite often.
    keeping my fingers crossed for alexis.

    1. I love this lineup but I really wanted to see Villa instead of Alexis. That being said, Alexis is better rested and Villa played about 80 minutes last game and we’ve been reminded this past week how slow and deliberate they are taking Villa’s comeback. Kinda wanted Montoya in there too but Dani is well rested having had to only play about a half last game.

      Celtic has been so nice to us and so welcoming I don’t really want to thrash them. A comfortable, heart attack free win will do just fine. Just need to keep our heads and convert our chances. It would be nice if Celtic could join us in the knockout stages.

  7. Nice preview, as always! I’m really looking forward to this game.

    @gojah el guaje started 2 games in a row last week. Did pretty well, too!

    I hope Lexus gets himself on the scorecard!

  8. Alexis is starting?! But but Jim was sure he wouldn’t start! How could you Tito? How could you go against ‘popular’ opinion and start Alexis?

  9. Hey NZM. Thanks for a wonderful preview.

    The atmosphere in Celtic park is amazing, from what I see on TV. They have scarves that are half Celtic, and half Barcelona. I only have one word to express my feelings for Glasgow and Celtic Park, and Celtic FC – Love.

  10. The Celtic mosaic looks absolutely Fantastic!!! Hats off to the fans of Celtic. I wish I could be there. Just out of respect for Celtic, we should allow them to score the first goal. I think the roof is going to blow up if that happens. …

  11. Just back in.

    Everyone, once in their life, should go to a European night at Parkhead as a Celtic fan and just enjoy singing Walk On 🙂

    Unbelievable.

    1. Hey Jim, Thanks for the recommendation. I have goosebumps listening to the fans chant. I will definitely add that to my to do list.

  12. is there a link to listen to audio commentary..I am at work hence can’t watch.. [:P]

    1. The call was a bit harsh. The two players had been tussling for a while before Song held on to him a bit too long.

  13. Wanyama is being immense right now. It will be tough to break through Celtic via the middle. I predict a late winner when Villa comes in.

    1. Alba seems to have some time and space. Goal will likely come from his involvement in the game.

    1. If the ban has been lifted, that would DEFINITELY explain Bojan’s recent resurgence at Milan!

  14. As I watch this I’m actually pretty proud of Scottish football. However, last ten minutes of the half – time to get to work and get hat goal back.

  15. Something needs to change, because all that Celtic is having to do is move left and right across their lines.

    1. agree game better suited to villa. expect to seem him at some point if nothing changes.

      cesc for song?
      don’t trust song to finish the game w/o another yellow and seems the odd man out right now.

    2. Alexis had a good idea (the first time I really noticed him this match), but Alba played the cutback blind. Pity.

  16. Here we are again, just passing the ball from side to side in front of the box, hoping for an opening, wasting possession. This never works against sides defending deep. When are we gonna learn?

  17. I’m feeling the need for some Villa and Cesc right now. Hate to say it, but I’d bring in someone for Song. He looks like he’s afraid of touching the ball for fear of another card.

    @ Jim. Is this the team you support when you’re not supporting Barca?

    1. No, mom4. I support a small town team from Perth called St Johnstone. However, of the big two, Celtic and Rangers I have a soft spot for Celtic. Their support are solidly working class and rooted in charities and appreciation of good football. The atmosphere at Celtic Park is absolutely incredible and I have been to a couple of European nights to support them.

  18. Thoughts on first half.

    I really can’t fault anybody for their performance in the first half except for Song. Useless yellow card, and a bad give away in the middle of the pitch that almost resulted in a goal.

    The Bar and Post have been kissed. Hopefully with a substitution that can cause their defense to destabilize barca can unlock Celtic.

    I am looking at Cesc who runs between the lines, and Tello, who has the pace and moves to run in from the wing.

    I would recommend bringing Pique to do the Defensive Midfielder role for Song. We might be looking at a potential red for Song.

    1. I would recommend bringing Pique to do the Defensive Midfielder role for Song.

      In theory you could bring him in for Sang and then he could play CB and then, maybe Masche could, you know, play his natural position? 🙂

      This just in…Messi uses Head and Shoulders shampoo! No dandruff for our little flea. Just thought you ought to know.

    2. Pique likes to go forward. He can more than play the defensive midfielder role, and create havoc in the offensive half.

    3. Barcelona technically had no shots on goal. (Though the refs missed the keeper’s touch on Messi’s shot that ended up against the bar.)

      Me, I’m thinking an actual striker might come in handy just now.

    4. Me, I’m thinking an actual striker might come in handy just now.

      What is this striker of which you speak? Confused! 😉

  19. We’re offering consistent and coherent threat at least, even if we’re not quite brilliant. A goal for us will come.

  20. Song to the rescue again. I for one think he’s having a pretty decent game.

    Hey, a shot on goal finally.

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