Celtic VS Barcelona Prediction
Another chapter from the European football rivalry between Celtic and Barcelona will take its place on Wednesday evening, 23 November 2016, when “Celtic Park” in Glasgow is set to host their fifth Group C fixture part of the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League schedule. “The Hoops” surely don’t want to get back with memories from opening group stage round, when Celtic had a trip to the mythical “Camp Nou” in Barcelona, where The Scottish Champions were completely wrecked. In fact, the seven-heaven scored into Celtic’s net (7-0) was, and still is, Barça’s most convincing effort so far in the season, inspired by a hat-trick from Leo Messi, a brace for Luis Suarez, as well as a goal for either of Andres Iniesta and Neymar.
Celtic vs Barcelona – Team News and Match Preview
Celtic lost any of its last three Champions League fixtures against Barcelona, conceding overall amount of 14 goals in them. Not the best defensive record though, but Celtic still holds some bright memories from the day after club’s 125th anniversary (which was on 6 November 2012). On that day, 7 November, Celtic has reached to a remarkable victory over Barcelona in the Champions League group phase, which came after goals from Victor Wanyama and Anthony Watt, while Leo Messi returned one for Barca in 91st minute. It remains the last massive victory for Celtic when facing a major name in European football and success achieved by Neil Lennon’s has also been crucial for latest Champions League Round of 16 breakthrough of “The Bhoys”.
Four years later Celtic welcomes Barcelona with hopes for something else than in previous leg, but quality difference was really obvious. Brendan Rodgers must squeeze something extraordinary from his players and Celtic should find inspiration from the 3-3 draw against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, when “The Hoops” were up front three times. However, Man City needed exactly 8 minutes to answer of every goal by Celtic and Fernandinho, Raheem Sterling and Nolito were names of those, who have found their names on the score sheet.
The 20-year-old French striker Moussa Dembele was once again under the spotlights for Celtic, as he scored twice and he surely is one of the most followed hot prospects in Europe.
Few weeks later Celtic earned another point, this time on the road. That happened last round, when Brendan Rodgers’ men won a point from their visit to Mönchengladbach – 1:1 draw. Moussa Dembele scored his fifth goal (third in the group stage) in this season’s Champions League campaign, after successfully executed penalty in 76th minute. Meanwhile, Julian Korb from Gladbach has been sent-off before that penalty but Celtic couldn’t took advantage from that situation. Thus Scottish champion remains with only 2 points and most optimistic scenario for them, in our opinion, is to dream for third position and eventual place in the UEFA Europa League. This looks extremely difficult since Celtic must win one of its remaining two matches (vs Barcelona and Man City), while at the same time they must hope Borussia M’Gladbach will lose its own matches.
Barcelona arrives in Scotland with main purpose to maintain its first position in the group, where we have serious competition involving both favourites Barcelona and Manchester City, Anyway, Barcelona leads with 2 points ahead (9 against 7) and they’ll have to bounce back after their 1-3 defeat from Manchester City last round. That was surely a disappointment for Luis Enrique’s men and pressure for Barca’s manager surely grows, since Barcelona have been really inconsistent for few weeks. “Blaugrana” won in only two from the last 5 games and that’s something untypical for The Catalans, although they have won at one really inhospitable ground like the “Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán” in Sevilla. That 1-2 victory for Barcelona came few days after losing in Manchester, right before pause for international football, which has secured a breath of fresh air for Luis Enrique.
Nonetheless, Barcelona made another wrong step during last weekend’s Spanish La Liga round, when they drew 0-0 vs Malaga at home. In a match where visitors were down to 10 men since 68th minute, when Diego Llorente has been sent-off. Malaga even ended the match with 9 men after another red card was shown to Juan Carlos, but that happened late in stoppage time. Another serious frustration which pretty much embitters the positives from winning in Seville, since distance between Barcelona and their rivals Real Madrid jumped to 4 points, after a marvelous 3-0 victory for Real Madrid in the Madrid Derby on Saturday night.
Celtic vs Barcelona – Betting Prediction and Possible Lineups
The goalless weekend effort should be mentioned, but we must also note lack of players like Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in Barcelona’s starting XI. Luis Enrique couldn’t use suspended Uruguayan striker, while Messi wasn’t in the group for Malaga due to illness. So we expect completely different motivation and attacking quality by Spanish champions on Wednesday night, when trio Neymar-Messi-Suarez should be ready to start and this can cause lot of damage, we all know this very well. For comparison, Barcelona’s attack against Malaga was led by Neymar, Paco Alcácer and Neymar and it was clearly inefficient.
Rotations are very likely to happen in midfield where except injured captain Andrés Iniesta, all other engines of Barcelona’s machine are in contention. Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic, who played around 20 minutes against Malaga, coming as a substitution for Rafinha, should be brought back to the squad, while Denis Suárez may also be replaced by Andre Gomes.
Lucas Digne and Jordi Alba compete for the left-back position, where the Frenchman began from the outset against Malaga, but he has been replaced by his Spanish teammate in the second half. Otherwise Luis Enrique doesn’t have much options for his defensive formation since Jérémy Mathieu and Samuel Umtiti are both injured. This leaves remaining part of Barcelona’s defensive formation quite predictable.
Celtic will be keen to cause another upset for Barcelona and Brendan Rodgers will probably stick to same formation with similar starting XI he used against Kilmarnock on Friday night. Their strong domestic performance continues and all of Celtic’s four defeats this season have been in the UEFA Champions League. “The Hoops” can boast with a 15-game unbeaten run on Scottish stage, but we simply cannot compare any of these games with the upcoming one. However, like we already mentioned, Moussa Dembele shows its potential and young Frenchman sparks with 16 goals in all competitions this season. His presence on top of Celtic’s attack will be biggest danger for Barca’s defense, so player from his caliber can be absolutely motivated to prove its quality in such a game.
Celtic’s defense can also be improved with presence of Belgian defender Dedryck Boyata, who made his first start since April. At the same time another young talent, home grown Kieran Tierney remains sidelined and his position at the left-back should be once again covered by experienced Emilio Izaguirre.
Final conclusion and Betting Prediction
Two months after suffering their heaviest-ever European defeat, Celtic will be determined to show a different face. They must hope Barcelona won’t unleash their fury after frustrating weekend result, which was a slap that came right on time. Indeed, Barcelona must get in-form before upcoming “El Clasico” after around two weeks and this requires proper results, marked by dedicated efforts and better finishing. Well, when we have trio MSN on top, horizon for Brendan Rodgers doesn’t seem so bright, but his lads can only win from that game.
We find good value in odds for “Both teams to score – Yes“, since we all know Barcelona is far from being an example of solid defending. Celtic must find a way to benefit from their main weakness and we expect goals from both teams here. We already saw Celtic is capable to score against Manchester City.
Another betting recommendation falls on name of aforementioned striker Moussa Dembele – Anytime Goalscorer. Currently suggested odds look tasty and our betting experts believe it’s worth a shot.
Venue: “Celtic Park”, Glasgow.
Referee: Daniele Orsato from Italy.
Possible starting lineups of Celtic and Barcelona
Celtic FC: Craig Gordon – Emilio Izaguirre, Erik Sviatchenko, Dedryck Boyata, Mikael Lustig – Stuart Armstrong, Scott Brown – Scott Sinclair, Tom Rogic, James Forrest – Moussa Dembele. (4-2-3-1)
FC Barcelona: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano, Sergi Roberto – André Gomes, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic – Neymar, Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez. (4-3-3)