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Barça are back at Celtic Park on Wednesday night at 8.45pm CET. Any game in Glasgow's famous stadium is always a pleasure to behold - and here's a round-up of key facts and stats that will help to make the experience even better!
Man in the middle
The match official will be Daniele Orsato of Italy, who despite having plenty of experience of refereeing at the top level has never taken charge of a game involving either Barça or Celtic before.
Negative runs for Celtic
The Scots are without a win in their last seven Champions League outings – and another failure would equal their longest ever winless streak in the competition. They have also gone a record 17 games without keeping a clean sheet, and will do well to end that run against the highest scorers so far in this year’s edition. FC Barcelona lead the way with 14 goals, half of which were scored in the first game against Celtic!
Possession doesn’t always count
In November 2012, Barça limited the Celts to just 15% of the time on the ball. Even so, the Scots made their few chances count and won the game 2-1. But that was the only time in nine attempts that the Bhoys have beaten the Blaugrana in the Champions League.
Friends will be friends
Parallels are often made between Celtic and Barça for their similar values and commitment to social causes, but no matter how warm the handshakes prior to the match, when the game gets going all of that will be put aside. As Leo Messi has said, “it is a club and stadium a lot of the players know well and a club we have a lot of respect for, but we must forget everything … We must be ruthless.”
Hopes in Parkhead may have been raised by Barça’s failure to beat Málaga at the Camp Nou last weekend. But facing a wounded Barça is a double-edged sword. The Catalans’ 7-0 rout of Celtic in September came just three days after the shock 2-1 defeat at home to Alavés. With Messi and Luis Suárez back in the side on Wednesday, may that be a warning!
Not forgetting Neymar Jr! With four goals and five assists in just three Champions League games against Celtic, this is clearly a fixture that he knows how to handle!
Formality for the U19s
With a 100 per cent record from their first four outings, the U19 side are already assured top spot in their UEFA Youth League group, so they only have pride to play for in their 3.00pm CET kick-off at Cappielow Park, home of Greenock Morton.
Not that coach Gabri García sees it that way. “Our objective is to qualify with a full house of wins" he says. "And Celtic will make it difficult for us because they’re still fighting to qualify.”
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