Will lightning strike twice in the Parkhead? The answer all Celtic fans are hoping for is ‘Yes’. Last year Celtic managed to defeat FC Barcelona in the Champions League. This victory was instantly a historic one and helped Celtic reach the final 16. But can it happen again?
Last time around Barcelona had a three-quarter share of possession but could not seal the deal. This is something that has been going through Neil Lennon, manager of Celtic, his mind. He assumes that the Catalan giants will be out for revenge and want to set things straight.
Barcelona is in top form this season winning seven matches in a row but the team doesn’t look like the Barca of a few years back. Their attacks aren’t as flowing and fast as they used to be and the ‘’new’’ superstar Neymar is yet to show everyone his true skills.
So Celtic may meet them at the right time in the competition. The Bhoys played really well in the first match of this year’s Champions League against AC Milan. Despite not getting the win, AC Milan won 2-0, Celtic showed they know how to play the game and are ready to make history again.
Messi out for two or three weeks.
FC Barcelona will have to play without Lionel Messi the upcoming weeks. The Argentinian attacker of Los Azulgranas sustained a thigh injury in the match against Almeria. Tests carried out by the medical staff of Barcelona confirmed that diagnosis. He is expected to return on the 19th of October for the match against Osasuna.
Messi isn’t the only player who will not be recovered in time for Tuesday’s game. Jordi Alba is still out due to torn fibers in his right hamstring. And the defender/midfielder Javier Mascherano has problems with his right hamstring as well. He will be sidelined for 10 to 15 days.
Good news is that club captain Carlos Puyol returned to train with his teammates. The 35-year-old is working his way back from a knee surgery.
‘Confidence is high’ says Samaras
Greek forward Georgios Samaras scored his first hattrick in three years this weekend, helping Celtic beat Kilmarnock with 5-2. He said: “You cannot compare the two games and (say) that because we won against Kilmarnock, confidence will be high. Confidence is always high.”
Celtic lost Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper in the last transfer window but manager Lennon feels good about Tuesday: “With van Dijk and Brown being fit this time, and I am hoping that James Forrest will be fit for Tuesday, that will give us something extra in terms of pace in wide areas. I think we will be okay, I think we will give them a game.”
With Leo Messi, Jordi Alba and Javier Mascherano being injured Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino needs to make some changes in his lineup.
Although Valdes doesn’t look happy these days in Barcelona he does play terrific so he will began as goalie. Alba will be replaced by the second left-back in the Catalan team, Adriano. And the center of the defense will likely be Gerard Piqué and Marc Bartra, leaving the right-back spot for Dani Alves.
On the midfield Martino has been rotating a lot between Iniesta, Xavi and Fabregas. I assume the midfield to consist of Busquets, Fabregas and Xavi.
Now that Messi is out, Neymar will need to step it up. He needs to show he can carry the offense. He will probably do so alongside Alexis Sanchez and Pedro.
Lineup: Valdes – Adriano, Bartra, Piqué, Alves – Busquets, Xavi, Fabregas – Neymar, Alexis Sanchez, Pedro.
Last year goalie Fraser Forster was very important in the win against Barca and he will try to do the same this year. In front of him will be a defense made up of Izaquirre, Van Dijk, Ambrose and Lustig.
Like Lennon said, Scott Brown is ready to play and the same probably goes for James Forrest but I don’t see him starting. The midfield will be Matthews, Brown, Mulgrew and Samaras.
At the forward positions Commons will be playing around center forward Stokes. So I will see the same starting 11 as against AC Milan.
Lineup: Forster - Izaquirre, Van Dijk, Ambrose, Lustig – Samaras, Mulgrew, Brown, Matthews – Commons, Stokes.
True, Celtic won last year and Messi is injured, but Barcelona is still the big favorite to win this battle in Glasgow. They want revenge and Neymar will want to prove himself. Celtic has proven to be a though opponent for Barcelona in the past. The last four matches all were decided by only a one-goal difference.
I predict that Celtic will go down but will do so fighting. My prediction is Celtic 1 – 3 FC Barcelona.