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The first known contact between FC Barcelona and Celtic FC was in January 1922, when the papers reported that the Catalan club had approached the Scots in search of a friendly. The game never happened.
Celtic have won their national league almost twice as many times (47) as Barcelona (24). However, the Scottish championship had a 40-year head start on the Spanish one. So what if we only count titles won since 1928/29, when La Liga was first contested? Celtic’s 33 titles is still a superior count. Barça have won the Spanish Cup a record 28 times, and in the same period, Celtic have won 30 of their 33 Scottish Cups.
Barça and Celtic first met in the second round of the Fairs Cups in 1964. In front what was described as a ‘weak’ crowd at the Camp Nou, Barça won 3-1. Celtic presented Barça captain Vergés with the now traditional pennant before the game, while the Scots were handed a bunch of flowers … Well, it was the sixties!
For the second leg, the talk in the papers was all about how Barcelona would cope with the cold and fog of Glasgow in December, as well as the deafening noise of Celtic Park. The game ended 0-0 and Barça progressed, but went out on away goals to Strasbourg in the very next round.
In 1965, a year after that meeting, Celtic was formed in Barcelona! Unió Esportiva Céltic borrowed the name from the Glasgow giants. However, due to the strict laws of the Franco era regarding the use of foreign names, they were originally obliged to call themselves Céltico. The club is still wearing the famous hoops today, playing in the Catalan third division.
The teams didn’t meet again until the UEFA Cup fourth round in 2003/04. The date was March 11, 2004, the day the world was in mourning after the bombings in Madrid that killed more than 200 people. Celtic Park singing You’ll Never Walk Alone in unison is always a sight to behold, but that evening’s rendition was one of the most emotionally powerful ever heard.
Celtic won that game 1-0 but goalkeeper Rab Douglas was sent off after a half-time tussle with Thiago Motta. Inexperienced 19-year-old David Marshall was fielded for the second leg at the Camp Nou and was the visitors' unlikely hero of a 0-0 draw – making one especially amazing save to deny current Barça manager Luis Enrique. Celtic progressed to the quarter finals, where they were beaten by Villarreal.
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