Celtic had a fairly routine warm up at the weekend for the big game on Tuesday night.
Rodgers bhoys put five past a newly promoted SPFL side but the manager knows that while his team can take a feel good factor to Spain with them, it’s not going to be easy.
Wins are hard to come by in the Camp Nou although Alavés managed it at the weekend, however, Barcelona were resting many players ahead of the Celtic game.
A fresh Catalan side will take on Celtic on their home turf and look to do what they did the last time Celtic came to town in 2013 when the bhoys were beaten 6-1.
That was Celtic’s last game in the Champions League group stages until now and it’s fitting in some ways that we’re heading back there for our first under Rodgers.
Celtic have scored on the last two occasions in the Camp Now, both goals then coming from Georgios Samaras who left the club nearly two years ago. One goal came in the rout that we’ve already mentioned and the other came when Neil Lennon’s bhoys were cruelly denied a point in Spain with a last minute Barca goal. We went onto win the reverse fixture at home on that famous night Wanyama and Watt scored to send Celtic Fans into a Nirvanic state.
It’s astonishing to think in the last 12 years we have played Barcelona 10 times. Celtic knocked them out the UEFA cup thanks to an Alan Thompson goal in early 2004. That same year we met them in the Champions League again and managed a point in Spain thanks to John Hartson popping up with an equaliser.
The task tomorrow night could not be more daunting, before Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to Deportivo Alavés, Enrique’s men had a run of ten without defeat, scoring 38, keeping nine clean sheets and conceding just two in that time.
Rodgers will know exactly what to expect in Luis Suarez, with the striker openly admitting he owes the upward trajectory of his career to the Irishman when they were both at Liverpool. Regardless if Messi plays or not we’re in for a night of frantic defending.
With Griffiths struggling for fitness and Dembele’s hattrick at the weekend it’s a no brainer to start the 20-year-old tomorrow night. He and Sinclair might find themselves isolated for large portions of the game. Brendan was quoted as saying Sinclair couldn’t play to his potential at Villa because the Championship side were always defending deep and he played more as a full back at times. Sinclair may have to do something similar in the Camp Nou and hope for a break of the ball.
We go into this game with no fear, this time two months ago we would have bitten anyone’s hand off for the opportunity to play in a game like this. This is a young fledgling team which will only be better for the experience whatever the outcome. That is what this years competition is all about, experience. Anything else is a bonus!
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