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Celtic and Barcelona have played each other 11 times over the years but going into Wednesday night’s encounter, Brendan Rodgers will be reminding his players of two of those matches in particular.
The first is the most recent match.
When Celtic took on Barcelona at the Camp Nou in their first game of their 2016/17 Champions League campaign, Rodgers sent out his team with a bravely attacking mentality. It nearly worked early doors but after Moussa Dembele missed a penalty the floodgates opened. Barcelona ended up winning 7-0, that’s their biggest ever win in European competition.
Rodgers will be telling his players to learn the lessons from that night but he’ll also be reminding them of the 2012 fixture between the two teams at Celtic Park. In one of the most memorable Parkhead nights, Celtic beat Barca 2-1 to send the fans into raptures and a certain rock and roll star into tears. That match, as Rodgers will point out, proves that the Bhoys can win big against all the odds.
Celtic desperately need another heroic performance on Wednesday night. Two defeats and two draws in Group C leaves them with only a glimmer of a chance of playing European football in the New Year. Barcelona, on the other hand, can qualify for the knockout stage of the Champions League with a win.
Barcelona 3/10 (Sky Bet)
Draw 5/1 (Paddy Power)
Celtic 11/1 (Betfair
By making Barcelona the odds on favourites, the bookies clearly expect Luis Enrique’s side to bounce back from their defeat against Manchester City in their last European match. But, are there a few reasons for Celtic to be optimistic?
Barcelona are some six points off the pace in La Liga. They’ve already lost twice domestically and on the weekend they were held to a 0-0 draw by a Malaga side who played much of the game with 10 men and ended with nine. Then there’s Celtic’s 3-3 draw with Manchester City in Glasgow. Rodgers’ men took the game to City and were full value for their point. Could a similar approach work against Barcelona?
Probably not. But, don’t settle just for short odds. Instead, have a bet on Barcelona to win and both teams to score at best odds of 7/4 with Coral. Barca are surely going to have too much but Celtic should be rewarded for their refreshing style with at least a goal.
Barcelona 2-0 @ 13/2 (Ladbrokes)
Barcelona 3-0 @ 15/2 (Coral)
Barcelona 2-1 @ 8/1 (William Hill)
Barcelona 1-0 @ 8/1 (Ladbrokes)
Barcelona 3-1 @ 10/1 (Bet365)
Draw 1-1 @ 11/1 (William Hill)
There was a slight caveat to Barcelona’s 0-0 draw on the weekend – they were without both Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Messi had a illness while Suarez was suspended. Both forwards will slot straight back into the team alongside the third member of their attacking line-up, Neymar. Each of those three are capable of deciding a game on their own but put together they are something truly special.
The constant goal threat that Barcelona will pose to Celtic means that the away side dominate the most popular selections in the Correct Score Market. As we’ve seen above though, Celtic will come out fighting so should be expected to offer a goal threat of their own. So, if you’re having a Correct Score bet, make sure to choose one in which both teams score. 3-1 to Barcelona looks a good option at 10/1 with Bet365.
Lionel Messi 11/4 (Sky Bet)
Luis Suarez 10/3 (Betfred)
Neymar 4/1 (Sky Bet)
Paco Alcacer 9/2 (Betfred)
Rafinha 8/1 (Paddy Power)
Leigh Griffiths 9/1 (Betfred)
Ivan Rakitic 10/1 (Betfred)
Moussa Dembele 11/1 (Paddy Power)
Surprise, surprise, Messi, Suarez and Neymar are right at the top of the First Goalscorer Market.
There have been stories in the British press that Manchester City are making a concerted effort to bring Messi to the Premier League but for now, he’s very much focussing on winning everything possible with Barcelona.
Messi is always going to be a handful for defences when he plays but he may be a little off his game due to the effects of the vomiting illness that struck him on Saturday. It may, therefore, be prudent to skip over Messi and instead turn to Luis Suarez.
The Uruguayan will be well rested having sat out Saturday’s game. While Messi and Neymar are incredibly creative players, Suarez is more of a destructive force in front of goal. When he gets on the end of a chance the outcome is usually a goal so back Suarez to score first at 10/3 with Betfred.
Barcelona to win and both teams to score at 7/4 with Coral
Luis Suarez to score first t 10/3 with Betfred