Celtic v Barca – Will lightening strike twice?
Everybody keeps talking about the possibility of lightening striking twice in Glasgow tomorrow night when Celtic host Barcelona, who they beat so memorably in the group stages of the Champions League last November – Coral go 13/2 that they again send the mighty Catalans home with their tails between their legs.
But while you couldn’t go as far as to suggest that Celtic have made a habit of humbling Europe’s big boys down the years, they have done so often enough for it not to be compared with a freak weather phenomenon.
Back in the sixties and seventies, the Hoops were big European Cup hitters themselves, of course, and teams of the stature of Benfica and Real Madrid were given short shrift on wonderful nights at Celtic Park. But they also have quite an impressive list of Champions League scalps this millennium: Juventus (4-3), Manchester United (1-0) and AC Milan (2-1) as well as Barcelona (1-0) in a UEFA Cup tie.
Lightening definitely won’t strike for a second time in the same place, however, when it comes to the goalscorers. Victor Wanyama, who scored Celtic’s opener, has moved to Southampton, while teenager Tony Watt, who calmly slotted home the all-important second in front of 55.000 plus delirious fans, has been loaned out to Belgian outfit, Lierse SK.
And the really big news is that Lionel Messi, scorer of Barcelona’s late consolation, will also be missing. Celtic fans appreciate a good player – and there is none better in the world than Messi – but his absence through injury is definitely a fantastic boost to everyone dreaming the dream again.
Nobody will be getting carried away, of course. Even without Messi, Barcelona are a wonderful, formidable unit, strengthened further still by the brilliant Neymar (3/1 to score first or last, 5/4 at any time), who has quickly fitted right in amongst the Nou Camp wizards.
But Barca are unlikely to have it any easier tomorrow than they did last time and the likes of Xavi and Iniesta will be warning the new boy from Brazil that this will be anything but a stroll in the Park for the runaway Spanish champions.
Is it too much to expect another famous Celtic win? Or at least a draw (Coral go 8/1 it finishes 1-1)? In last season’s clash, Neil Lennon’s men had just three shots all night, but all three were on target and two found the net. Barcelona had 25 attempts, 14 on target and scored just once. It may well be more of the same tomorrow and Celtic will surely have to take every chance that comes their way.
The visitors have to be strong favourites (4/11) to get it right this time, but that’s the great thing about this game – you just never know.
Written by Jon Freeman