FC Barcelona’s bid to reach the Champions League final in Cardiff next June begins on Tuesday with the visit of Celtic to the Camp Nou. Luis Enrique has already stressed in the build-up to the game how important it is to get off to a good start – and recent history shows that Barça usually do just that!
In the last seventeen seasons, the Catalans have begun their European campaigns with 13 wins and four draws. They’ve not lost a dingle opening fixture in all that time!
Since the new format was introduced in 1993/94, Barça have played their opening fixture at the Camp Nou ten times, and have won nine of those games. AC Milan grabbed a late equaliser to make it 2-2 in 2011, but the rest have all been wins. The most recent were against APOEL (1-0) – 2014/15 -, Ajax (4-0) – 2013/14-, Spartak Moscow (3-2) – 2012/13- and Panathinaikos (5-1) – 2010/11.
In fact, playing home or away, Barça have only lost one opening fixture in the Champions League era. That was when they crashed 3-2 to an Faustino Asprilla inspired Newcastle at St James Park in 1997/98. Since then, they have always got off on fine footing in Europe’s premier club competition – and let’s hope the good run continues tonight against the Celts!