Celtic have waited for two longs years to make their way back to the Champions League. Under Ronny Deila, the Hoops failed to qualify for the group stage of the Premier club competition in Europe in the past two seasons losing the playoffs against Maribor and Malmo but Brendan Rodgers finally put an end to the fans’ frustrations. However, Celtic have been drawn into the toughest group of the Champions League with mighty Barcelona, Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach.
Celtic start their Champions League campaign with a tough away tie against Barcelona but will be high on confidence heading into the game. The Hoops thrashed their arch-rivals Rangers 5-1 on Saturday maintaining their 100% start in the Premiership. On the other hand, Barcelona were upset by newly promoted Alaves 2-1 at Camp Nou. Even though Barcelona are much stronger than Celtic on paper, momentum is with the visitors.
Here are three key battles those could potentially decide the outcome of the game.
Luis Suarez Vs Kolo Toure
Formerly teammates at Liverpool, Suarez and Toure will go head to head against each other as Celtic face Barcelona at Camp Nou. Toure has been sensational for Celtic this season after joining the Premiership holders this summer on a free transfer following his contract expiry with Liverpool. The Ivorian still has it in him and his experience can prove to be vital in Celtic dealing with the dangerous attacking triumvirate of Messi, Suarez and Neymar. Suarez knows the Ivorian inside out and so does Toure and the battle between them will be something to watch out for.
Ivan Rakitic Vs Scott Brown
Rakitic provides the drive in Barcelona midfield. Andres Iniesta is just back from a long injury and is a doubtful starter against Celtic which makes the job of the Croat even harder. Scott Brown is in a brilliant form and bossed the midfield against Rangers. The Scottish international will give a neck to neck fight to Rakitic for midfield dominance and we have to wait and see who comes out as a winner.
Gerard Pique Vs Moussa Dembele
Celtic dealt a major blow when their first-choice striker Leigh Griffiths was ruled out with an injury ahead of the Rangers game. The Scot will miss the Barcelona trip but young Moussa Dembele is making the fans dream. The Frenchman scored a stunning hat-trick against Rangers and will pose a bit test to Barcelona’s defence. Gerard Pique will be assigned the task to handle Dembele but the quick and strong youngster is a difficult player to deal with. Barcelona’s defence has been shaky of late and Celtic’s pace up front will once again be a massive threat.