Venue: Celtic Park, Glasgow
Kick-off : 12:15 (IST)
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes, Alves, Pique, Bartra, Adriano, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Alexis, Fabregas, Neymar
Celtic (4-2-3-1): Forster; Izaguirre, Ambrose, Lustig, Mulgrew; Kayal, Matthews, Brown, Commons, Samaras, Stokes
Spanish giants Barcelona travel to Glasgow to face reigning Scottish Premier League winners, Celtic F.C at the Celtic Park for the Champions League Group H fixture. Barcelona will be looking forward to avenge last season’s 2-1 shock defeat that saw Celtic’s only two attempts on net converted to goals by Victor Wanyama and rookie striker Tony Watt.
Celtic have opened their campaign to the Champions League with a 2-0 defeat to AC Milan a fortnight ago. The Hoops have won seven of their last nine European fixtures at home, with only one defeat coming in the clash with Juventus last season. After the shocking defeat to Morton in the League Cup, Celtic bounced back to defeat Kilmarnock 5-2 over the weekend while Tata Martino’s Barcelona top La Liga with a perfect record from their seven matches after a 2-0 win over Almeria.
Neil Lennon’s Celtic will once again continue with their attack under star striker George Samaras, who netted a hat trick in his game against Kilmarnock. Kris Commons, who has three goals and two assists in the SPL so far is expected to start tonight. New signing Steven Mouyokolo is out with an Achilles injury while midfielder Joe Ledley is sidelined with a groin injury. Striker Teemu Pukki who has two goals in three matches and could also cause havoc to Barca’s defensive lineup.
Veteran Goalkeeper James Forrest and Beram Kayal will motivate their team after they just returned from health issues. Lennon’s side has six victories and one draw in the SPL and are in a redefined shape to give Barcelona a taste of defeat.
Coming to the Barca squad, Four time Ballon D’Or winner, Lionel Messi drops out of the squad with a hamstring injury and will be sidelined for up to 3 weeks. This points clearly that either Cesc Fabregas or Neymar will fill in the central attacking role but most likely Cesc Fabregas will play his favourable midfield position as veteran midfielder Xavi Hernandez featured in their recent La Liga game and will be given rest.
Tata Martino has strengthened his squad by calling up two B team players, Sergi Gomez and Patric. Victor Valdes will start in goal with Dani Alves and Adriano Correia operating down the flanks. It’s a major defensive blow for the Catalans as Jordi Alba, Javier Mascherano and Carles Puyol are all out injured which leaves Gerard Pique and inexperienced Marc Bartra to form the central defensive partnership. Busquets will start at pivote, while Cesc and Andres Iniesta will operate in midfield. The loss of Messi has given the home side the extra hope and motivation they needed all along.