Celtic start their Champions League campaign with a tricky away tie against mighty Barcelona and the Hoops will be looking to trouble the Catalan giants. Barcelona’s 100% start to the season was brought to an end by newly-promoted Alaves on Saturday as Luis Enrique’s boys suffered a shock defeat. Enrique took a complacent approach while taking on the Segunda Division winners from last season and had to pay for it. The Champions League winning Barcelona manager will be hoping for a strong response from his boys when they take on Celtic in their Champions League opener.
Celtic are on a roll at the moment and have been scoring for fun but we have to wait and see how they fare against a team of Barcelona’s calibre. The Hoops thrashed their bitter rivals Rangers in the first Old Firm Derby of the season 5-1 and will be high on confidence heading to Camp Nou. The fans have waited two long years to see their beloved team in the Premier club competition of Europe and they will be Celtic’s 12th man tonight.
Barcelona have a good record against the Bhoys winning six of their eight meetings while Celtic won only once when they beat the Catalan side 2-1 at Celtic Park in November 2012. Rodgers has a poor record in the Champions League winning just one of his six games in elite competition of Europe during his spell at Liverpool.
Barcelona will welcome back Andres Iniesta back from injury who is likely to start his first game following his lengthy spell on the sidelines. Marc-Andre ter Stegen is also fit to face Celtic and is likely to replace Jasper Cillessen under the bar.
Celtic, on the other hand, will miss their first choice striker Leigh Griffiths but Moussa Dembele’s hat-trick against Rangers on Saturday in the absence of the Scot will give the Hoops hope. Skipper Scott Brown is also declared fit for the game.
Predicted line-ups and tactical setups
The Blaugrana will lineup in their natural 4-3-3 formation. Ter Stegen will start under the bar behind the back four of Roberto, Pique, Umtiti and Alba. Busquets will start in defensive midfield with Rakitic and Iniesta operating as the two box to box midfielders. The dangerous triumvirate of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar are likely to start together up front for the first time this season.
Starting XI: ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Neymar
Celtic are likely to stick to 4-2-3-1. Dorus de Vries is likely to beat Craig Gordon for the starting spot between the stick. The back four expected to line up against Barcelona is Lustig, Toure, Sviatchenko and Tierney. Skipper Scott Brown will pair up with Nir Bitton in the middle of the park. Tom Rogic will start as the number ten while James Forrest and Scott Sinclair are likely to keep their places on the flanks. Moussa Dembele will be looking to impress once again after his excellent hat-trick against Rangers.
Starting XI: de Vries; Lustig, Toure, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Bitton; Forrest, Rogic, Sinclair; Dembele