Five talking points ahead of Celtic v Barcelona
Celtic take on Barcelona in their Champions League Group C clash at Parkhead on Wednesday night.
Here, we take a look at five talking points ahead of the Hoops’ latest European contest:
Celtic are top of the Ladbrokes Premiership and unbeaten domestically, with a Betfred Cup final against Aberdeen to look forward to at Hampden Park on Sunday. It is still early in the season but Brendan Rodgers’ side look capable of a domestic treble. The Parkhead men have put in some splendid performances under the former Liverpool boss and the 1-0 win at Kilmarnock on Friday night showed a tenacious side to their game. Europe has been quite obviously a more difficult prospect and although they carved out deserved draws at home to Manchester City and away to Borussia Monchengladbach, the Scottish champions will need to reach new levels against the Catalans.
Celtic were dismantled by Barcelona’s superstars in the Nou Camp when the sides met in September. Lionel Messi helped himself to a hat-trick and Luis Suarez a double with Neymar and Andres Iniesta also notching in the 7-0 thrashing of the shell-shocked visitors, who saw Moussa Dembele’s penalty saved. While anything resembling a reversal of the scoreline cannot be contemplated a Hoops victory is not out of the question. Celtic fans recall with great fondness the 2-1 home win over Barca in the Champions League in 2012 and the 1-0 victory over the Catalans in the UEFA Cup in 2004 so a precedent has been set.
CAN CELTIC GET THE POINTS NEEDED TO STAY IN EUROPE?
Celtic are bottom of Group C with two points from four games. They need one win out of their last two games to give themselves a chance of playing in Europe after Christmas. Will it be against Barcelona at home or Manchester City away next month? The Glasgow side could hardly have two more difficult fixtures and it will require something special.
WHO COULD BE A CELTIC HERO?
Tony Watt will never be forgotten for scoring the winner in the 2-1 victory over Barcelona in 2012. It was a remarkable result which catapulted the then 18-year-old into the limelight. Celtic have plenty of match winners in their current side including France Under-21 striker Dembele, who has been tipped for great things after scoring 16 goals since the start of the season. Leigh Griffiths could threaten if he starts or comes off the bench in the event he recovers from his hamstring complaint. The rejuvenated Scott Sinclair offers a threat coming off the wing. Stuart Armstrong has returned to form under Rodgers while fellow midfielder Tom Rogic has also had a new lease of life.
WHAT TACTICS WILL RODGERS EMPLOY?
The Celtic boss has no qualms about changing tactics and regularly tinkers during the course of the game. However, the 4-2-3-1 formation is normally employed. Unusually, though, he started with five at the back against Barcelona in the Nou Camp with Cristian Gamboa making his debut at right-back only for Celtic to find themselves a goal behind after three minutes. It is almost certain that Dembele will play the lone striker’s role but intrigue surrounds how Rodgers will set out his side at a venue where only attack is ever on the menu.