Madrid, Dec. Dec 11 (IANS) FC Barcelona coach Tata Martino knows his side still have some homework to do when they entertain Glasgow Celtic at the Camp Nou Stadium.
Barca’s surprise defeat away to Ajax two weeks ago has kept the Spanish club in suspense over topping the pool for an easier draw in the knockout stages of the competition, reports Xinhia.
Barca need a draw against the Scottish Champions, who have nothing to play for given that they are certain to finish bottom of the group and have no chance of even playing in the Europa League.
Nevertheless, recent magnificent domestic results, which have seen them thrash Motherwell and Hearts scoring 12 goals in the process, show that Celtic are in fine form and will have to be taken seriously, especially as there are still questions to be answered over Barca’s current form.
Martino’s side ended their two game running streak with a 4-1 win away to third tier side Cartagena on Friday night, but it is hard to judge Barca’s performance against a team which includes several semi-professional footballers.
What Barca need to do is to produce a convincing display and dominate possession, something they have not been doing in recent matches.
To do that Martino will bring Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta back into his side, with Sergio Busquets playing in front of the defense.
Cesc Fabrigas is suspended for the game and that will mean Neymar plays in a more central role, while Pedro Rodriguez, who scored twice in Cartagena and Alexis Sanchez should provide pace in support.
One option open to Martino, who may have half an eye on the Primera Liga clash at home to Villarreal at the weekend, could be to include Alex Song in midfield and push Iniesta into a more advanced role.
Song has been in good form of late and has benefitted from being pushed into a more advanced midfield role, similar to that in which he was so successful at Arsenal.
Jordi Alba provided good news on Friday when he returned after 10 weeks out injured and the Spanish international will get more game time, be it from the start or as a substitute, while Victor Valdes’ continued absence with a calf problem sees Jose Pinto continue in goal.
A point will be enough for Barca, but more than that, they need to convince, otherwise the alarm bells which rang in Amsterdam and Bilbao will continue to ring until at least the weekend.Published 11 Dec 2013, 12:30 IST