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Rain and cold required for Celtic victory, says Vennegoor of Hesselink

Jan vennegoor of Hesselink scores against Barca in 2008. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Jan vennegoor of Hesselink scores against Barca in 2008. Picture: Ian Rutherford

JAN Vennegoor of Hesselink believes Celtic need good fortune and bad weather to beat Barcelona in Glasgow tomorrow night.

The former striker put Celtic in front in the round-of-16 first-leg clash with the Catalans in February 2008, but Barcelona responded to win 3-2 and claimed a 1-0 home success to advance. The Dutchman said: “You have to be realistic. It’s going to be difficult, but at lot can happen at Celtic Park. Hopefully it will happen on Wednesday. They have a chance. They play Barcelona and everyone knows their qualities and their players.

“You hope for Celtic that [Barca] have a really bad day and that you have a really good day, that it rains hard, that they are cold, that the boys in Scotland are used to it and that they can get a result. It’s going to be hard. You need a little bit of luck.”

Barcelona lead Champions League Group G with a 100 per cent record from three games, including a last-gasp home win against Celtic.

Neil Lennon’s men are second after claiming a first away win in the competition at Spartak Moscow and a draw with Benfica.

Vennegoor of Hesselink is uncertain if his former side will reach the knockout stages at the halfway stage of a competitive pool. He said: “It’s a difficult group, with Barcelona on top. The two other opponents invested in a lot of players. If you’re a little bit lucky you can progress, but it’s going to be difficult. When we got to the second round twice in two years we had luck on our side too.”

Vennegoor of Hesselink retired in May after his second spell at PSV Eindhoven, but many of his finest moments were with Celtic.

Of the powerful header against Barca, he said: “I saw it yesterday for the first time in a long time. Good memories. Shame we didn’t win the game.”

Champions League evenings at Parkhead are also fondly recalled. “It was great for me to be involved in those games,” he said. “You hear the hymn before the game and everybody is buzzing. It gives you an extra buzz, an extra tinkle. You run a little bit harder and you fight a little bit harder.

“A lot of players who have played there in the past will tell you that it lifts you as a player.

“When you go to the game you know it’s going to be special. I enjoyed it so much when the flag was waving and you hear the hymn of the Champions League.

“Then you are playing these teams in front of 60,000 people. I was talking to my Dutch colleagues and telling them how you can’t describe the atmosphere within Celtic Park. It’s so vibrant.

“For a player it’s just electric. It gives you such a buzz. I had a few games there and now I’m retired I’m looking forward to going back there without all the stress.

“Recently, I’ve been getting stuff from all the boxes from the houses I’ve lived in as I’m building a new house and I need to sort out all my things.

“There’s lots of pictures and tops – so many great memories. The home game against Barcelona I got Ronaldinho’s jersey and after the away leg I got Xavi’s.”

 

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