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. Celtic’s night. We haven’t done enough in the 2nd half to break the bus and it’s their 125 anniversary

  2. Finally Barca get the kick up the arse they deserve. Tito – your team has been pretty poor for weeks. Sleepwalking through matches, lacking drive & ideas, making mistakes that weren’t always punished like they should have been. We’ve won matches we shouldn’t have – but not tonight.

  3. Oh wait, it’s Alexis’s and Song’s fault again…no wait, they are not playing at all now.
    We should be talking about Iniesta, and Dani and Pedro and Xavi and… instead of the usual scapegoats.
    Anyway, good that we got it tonight, and not when i really matters, like Mallorca for that matter.

  4. I don’t know what those people, who called last week’s 3-1 win against Celta Vigo our worst performance, are gonna say now?!

    1. That was Barcagasm… those 91-93 minutes, even if we couldn’t score.
      Best moment of the match for me.

  5. If Iniesta controls that ball in the box with a good touch we score and it’s 2-2. He hasn’t had the best of games.

  6. those commentators are doing my head in. Oh well back to the drawing board and we’re still on top.

    1. You should be, Jim. Celtic played a better defensive game than any other team that I’ve seen against Barca. No horrid fouling, just a straight match.

    1. They played well, defended well. But I never think a bus parking team ever deserves to win. So not well deserved, but well played to Celtic.

    2. They played the tactics that work against Barca, swami – it’s up to Barca to figure out how to counter the play.

      When the only movement that you see on the park is Barca players running around in circles, and the Celtic defence just having to slide left and right, holding their defensive lines, then something has to change – and you can bet that it won’t be the opposition changing what works!

      Once again, allowing a defensive side to score first was the biggest error for Barca. After that, they dug the trenches even deeper.

    3. I did say they played well. But this kind of play is just about taking the least amount of risk possible. It doesn’t take anything special to create this game plan and execute it. I can clap for a team that beats us trying to play us, and say they deserve it. I can’t do so for a team that does not do this.

      It’s a competitive game, and I am not saying teams don’t have every right to play this way. I can certainly understand why Celtic would want to play this way. It makes sense for them. But I can’t have any respect or admiration for it, nor can I understand those who do.

    4. It’s not so much having respect for their play, but respect for them beating Barca in a clean match.

      But if we all felt the same way, it would be too boring!

    5. Barca should have definitely lost that game.

      Song could have easily seen red by half time. It was only because of the leniency of the Ref was Song on the pitch after more than his share of mistakes. Tito should have substituted for him at half time.

  7. Good for the Scot’s. They certainly aren’t going to win the CL anytime soon, so this is their CL Final! lol.

    1. No need to belittle them. They played like lions tonight and beat one of the best teams in the world.

    2. I think you are being overly complementary. They played a good defensive game, but they are not the first to do so. Actual courage means taking risks. They were pragmatic, and executed their game plan well, but there is not much to admire in doing so. They played well, just not admirably or courageously like some are saying.

    3. I don’t think that I am. I’m complimenting Celtic for their game and tactics. They took the best from Chelsea and made it their own – without the dirty fouling and the diving theatrics. Forster was dynamic in front of goal, and the team played the spaces between the Barca players and not the players. They done well!

    4. I agree that they did well. In fact, I don’t think we played terribly, we did pretty good. I hate it when cules criticize our team after a match like this, as if we just gave the game away and the other team doesn’t exist. They just played very disciplined, didn’t take any risks, and profited from our mistakes. If they hadn’t been as disciplined or quick to pounce on our weakness, we would have won.

  8. Happy 125th Birthday Celtic!

    Next time substitute sooner Tito!

    Wanyama, Fraser and Foster are men of the match for me.

    If I had to pick one player, it would be Fraser’s effort to stop Dani from getting into the game, and for all his blocks and last ditch tackles, he gets MOTM.

  9. Thank you to Benfica for helping us out tonight.
    Group G
    Barca -9 points
    Celtic- 7 points
    Benfica- 4 points
    Spartak- 3 points

  10. Need a tad more than sideways pass sideways pass sideways pass give it to Messi. Pep realised opposition teams had figured this out & f*cked off. What’s your plan Tito..?

    1. Did it in the 1st game. We did it again in this game. nobody willing to to run at the defenders. Middle clogged and yet we still do the same crap. At some point somebody needs to realize this approach DOES NOT WORK against parked buses and try something different. Till then were in for more of the same. Sometimes we will get lucky and at crucial times as in the past, we wont.

    2. And that has become a trend, more of a signature- pass the ball to Leo on the right wing, he drifts and drifts and drifts sideways till he reaches the left post and then tries to shoot with his left leg through a gap between the opposition defence.

      It has become so predictable! The defenders start clogging him as soon as they see him drift sideways and mostly, the ball is cleared.

    3. What are your suggestions?

      They play 10 men behind the ball, two banks of 5 or three banks of 4,4 and 2. and that’s with the game compressed not just into their half but into their third.

      There is no space at all to do anything and we do not shoot from distance and cross the ball because if we do, we run the risk of conceding possession and allowing them to organize a dangerous counter (which we have struggled mightily with this season with our crippled defense)

      So we only have the option of patiently probing and waiting for someone to be dragged out of position.

      We almost did it – we hit the post twice, and with a little more sharpness, we could have created a few more chances and eventually scored more than one goal.

      But playing against that kind of parked bus will always be difficult, that’s just how it is.

  11. i’m not too upset about this result, very strange. Celtic deserved their victory, Barca played like crap as well. If there was one team i’m happy to see beat Barca is Celtic. They do not use dirty tactics like others do to stop Barca and the atmosphere was awesome.
    Zubizaretta said Barca found it difficult against them and he wasn’t lying.

  12. The thing is with that atmosphere at Celtic park they can beat anyone on the night. Its the same with the Scotland team at Hampden. Scots respond really well to being underdogs. its in our psyche. It’s away we struggle.

    1. But if it’s because of atmosphere alone they should be winning every match don’t they? Or is it only like this on the big nights?

      I thought you had work at school? How did you catch the match?

    2. Parent evening was 5pm till 7.30 so I dashed home . Just missed first five minutes but had it taped.

      I’m not saying they will win every match at home but if the crowd get fired up trust me they can become invincible.

  13. I hope Tito & boys got the lesson for tonight.
    Wasn’t a much imp. match due to our previous results, so okay.

    Better bounce back against Mallorca, I want a win for my b’day present this Sunday! 😀

  14. Agree with those saying celtic deserved the win. the model to beat barca remains the same for now i guess. certainly a parked bus always requires a bit of luck, which celtic got. However, the organization and discipline was outstanding. you could argue they were more effective in the second half. watt was destroying mascherano, every ball forward for them became dangerous.

  15. A little less possession , a little more penetration please .

    Not buying Thiago Silva is our biggest mistake in the transfer window .

  16. Questions arising from tonight:
    – How do you manage an opposition who man-marks us so well with great discipline as well?
    – How the f___ do you utilize Alexis’ best trait- “the explosive run” effectively if he has not much space of his own to operate with Alves lingering behind his back managing the right flank as well?

  17. -I don’t understand how Celta deserved to win. We were a much better side. It was again goals conceded and their goalkeeper making worldwide class saves like in the first leg and Cech.

    How may chances did they had? We created heaps of chances like in the first leg and against Chelsea last season. It’s just that we couldn’t finish the chances off.

    -I think that since last season we made progress against parked busses. Before Chelsea we couldn’t even get into the box.

    -I still can’t understand how Xavi and Iniesta still can’t shoot.. There both around 30 now and yet can’t find the target or don’t have enough power.

    -We were lucky twice. Song and sMasch both should’ve been sent off.

    -Alexis had his best match of the season imo. I didn’t feel that he deserved to go off. And Villa just didn’t suit to play Celtic. He’s too static and doesn’t have enough energy and strength.

    -Pedro is a very skilful player now. One of the best in tight spaces.

    -Hopefully now we can see more of Messi on the RW and Villa or Alexis or Cesc in the middle.

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