Celtic FC 2 FC Barcelona 1

Barça’s winning run came to a halt tonight with a 2-1 defeat to Celtic at the magnificent Celtic Park tonight. Despite dominating possession throughout the game Barça were frustrated by Celtic’s defensive formation while conceding goals from our two old favourites: a corner kick and a long ball down the middle. Leo Messi finally pulled a goal back in injury time to dedicate to his new born son but it was all too late.

Gerard Piqué was back in the squad after injury but Tito Vilanova preferred to give Marc Bartrá another start at the back which meant Barça played the same eleven as in the 2-1 win over Celtic at Camp Nou except for Alves at right back instead of Adriano. Alex Song continued in place of the suspended Busquets while Alexis returned to the attack in place of David Villa who returned to the bench after starting the last three games.

Celtic made three changes to their Camp Nou XI with Adam Matthews, Kris Commons and Miku replacing Izaguirre, Brown and Hooper. Before the game there was a splendid mosaic from the crowd and the traditional deafening rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone to get us in the mood. Right from the kick off the pattern of the game became clear, Celtic concentrated on keeping a disciplined shape which only pressed for the ball in the last 40 metres of Celtic’s half while waiting for a Barça slip to try and launch a quick ball up to the lone forward Samaras. Barça played the typical patient passing game, moving the ball from side to side with effortless ease but penetrating the Celtic box was much more complicated.

The first chance for Barça came in the seventh minute but after Alexis diverted Xavi’s shot from the edge of the area Celtic keeper Frasier Forster made his first save of the night. A minute later Messi fired over after Alba pulled the ball back and it didn’t look as if it would take Barça long to break through. There were two early fouls from Commons on Iniesta and Song but the Dutch referee Björn Kuipers decided the first yellow card should be for Song for pulling Miku after 13 minutes. Five minutes later Kuipers let Song off a second yellow after another foul by the Cameroonian on Miku.

The first danger from Celtic came with a long throw from the left which Valdés had to punch clear, and when Ambrose sent in another throw from the right in the 19th minute our defence could only concede a corner. Mulgrew swung the ball in left foot from the right, the ball came towards the back post where we only had little Alba covering the zone, the powerful Wanyama stole in and rose above Alba to head cleanly past Valdés. Canal+ commentator Michael Robinson declared that the goal was like ‘robbing candy from a child’.

After the goal Celtic sat even deeper with nine men getting back behind the ball to protect Forster. Messi had another frustrating game, often moving out to the right side, but he still looked our most dangerous player. In the 29th minute he cut in from the right, skipping past one challenge before finding Iniesta who sent a short ball back into the Argentinian who despite being surrounded by defenders, found a brilliantly quick control before snapping a shot from 15 yards that clipped off the top of the crossbar.

Barça continued to press with both Alves and Alba constantly getting forward on the flanks. As is often the case, Alves’s crossing was erratic but his insistance nearly paid off when he sent in a peach of a cross which Alexis rose to head but we were again denied by the woodwork as the ball bounced out off the far post. The attacks continued all in one direction with Forster needing to do well to dive and push Alba’s cross away as Messi waited to pounce.

We began the second half concentrating attacks down the right side with Alves sending in three crosses of which only one found a Barça man but Pedro couldn’t twist his header goalwards. Messi continued to drift towards the right side, once just failing to get on the end of a one-two with Alves, and another time curling for the far post but Forster had the shot well covered. Alexis tended to move inside to a more central position rather than stay on the left and in the 60th minute Messi spotted him with a defence splitting pass but Alexis’s first shot was saved by Forster and his attempt to fire in the rebound was frustrated by Wilson.

Bartrá and Mascherano had had very little work to do at the back but Bartrá spoiled a reasonable game with two mistakes in three minutes, first he gave a poor ball out of defence but Alba managed to tidy up the error, and then Bartrá inexplicably allowed a free kick to bounce but Mulgrew failed to capitalize and Bartrá got back to recover.

With twenty-five minutes remaining Villa came on for Alexis and the game still looked winnable for Barça. Messi sent a pass through for Alba on the left and when the ball came back Messi fired a low shot and Forster made his best save of the night, diving to the left. However, when Song kicked Miku from behind we could have had no complaints if Kuipers had pulled out a second yellow. The ref decided against it but Vilanova decided it was too risky too leave Song on so Fabregas replaced him while Piqué returned to action after seven weeks out, in place of Bartrá.

For once Vilanova’s changes failed to produce a reaction from the team. Celtic stayed deep but our shooting was off target or there was always a defender to block or Forster to save. With seven minutes remaining Forster saved comfortably as Messi tried again to curl for the far post, and the Celtic keeper sent a long ball forward, Xavi had moved back to Song’s position but here he made a complete hash of intercepting the ball, Xavi’s mistake caught Mascherano unexpecting and Celtic sub Tony Watt raced through to fire low past Valdés.

Two-nil. It didn’t seem possibly considering how much of the game had been played in Celtic’s half. However, it could have got worse soon after when Watt again looked quicker than Mascherano who might have been sent off as the last defender after tugging at Watt’s sleeve, though the forward’s exaggerated fall may have influenced the ref’s decision to wave play on. Our luck was summed up by Piqué getting in the way of Villa’s volley in the 89th minute.

Messi finally found the net, pouncing on a rebound as the game entered injury time after a rapid pass move through the middle involving Iniesta, Fabregas and Villa. There were a couple more tense minutes for Celtic to hold on but there was no last minute heartbreak for them tonight. It’s a set-back for Barça but it shouldn’t be an important one. I’d like to say we can learn from our mistakes but defending set-pieces and long balls down the middle have been our main defensive weakness for far too long now.

Congratulations to Celtic on a historic victory. The football wasn’t the prettiest but for the crowd alone they were worthy winners tonight.

Celtic: Forster; Lustig (Watt m72), Ambrose, Wilson, Matthews; Commons, Wanyama, Ledley, Mulgrew; Miku, Samaras (Kayal m79).

Barça: Valdés 6: Alves 6, Bartrá 5.5 (Piqué m71, 6), Mascherano 5.5, Alba 6: Xavi 5.5, Song 5 (Fabregas m71, 6), Iniesta 6: Pedro 5.5, Messi 6.5, Alexis 6.5 (Villa m65, 6).

Goals: m21 Wanyama 1-0, m83 Watt 2-0, m91 Messi 2-1.

Yellow cards:m13 Song, m41 Miku, m65 Alba

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11 Responses to Celtic FC 2 FC Barcelona 1

  1. Pingback: Celtic FC 2 FC Barcelona 1 | birdmanps

  2. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Barcelona played very very well indeed,,,yet went down 2-1. What i understand from this lost is.

    1- WE LACK THE BALANCE AT THE BACK. When both Jordi Alba and D.Alves starting we will need center backs to be atleast 184 and above in height to make up to the lost in height, power and arial ability especially when defending corners.

    WE CANNOT DEPEND ON THE PIQUE AND MASCHERANO COMBINATION at the back. Mascherano is a superb tackler but HE NEEDS TO GET HIS KNEES DONE!! We will need him to be atleast 181CM and above tall to make things solid at the back.


    Do we wait for ABIDAL and depend on PUYOL till the end of the season or should we sign a CENTER BACK by January!! If so who would be our best option?? I hate to lose in this sort of circumstances. IT FUC#IN REMINDS ME OF THE CHELSEA match!! And i lose alot of sleep due to this sort of loses.

  3. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Busquets has the height to solve our ariel problem…but CAN SOMEBODY RUSH HIM TO THE GOD DAMN GYM ASAP. He needs to buff up a little. Good height but no power…is of no point in corner kick situations as well.

    • We can probably use Busquet as a full back when there are no other options available. But he is best played in his position (defensive midfielder) due to his creativity and skills, not strength and pace. We need somebody with strength and pace at the back to fill the gap. Bartra will grow to become a good defender, but clearly he needs more time. At the moment, we still need Abidal & Puyol at the back. It feels like even the likes of Stoke City can beat us if they opt for the same tactic (park the bus, counter attack). But the game last night got me thinking: why did we need to go on the offensive like always when the opponents make it clear that they are just going to give the ball away and defend? Why couldn’t we take it easy a little bit on the attack from the very beginning, take a moment to analyze your opponent and start paying more attention to possible quick counter?

  4. Caleb says:

    I never like losing but if we had to lose a game this season this one is alright. We’re still on top of the group. It will serve to galvanize us (I hope). And you got to admire Celtic’s effort and the crowd.

  5. bc9jaCule says:

    Hi guys or should I say cules. That was a terrific atmosphere at Celtic last night and I love the beautiful mossaics – just exquisitely colourful and creative.

    About the match, I’ll like to congratulate Celtic for grabbing a victory against us on their historic anniversary. Now that’s what I’ll call defensive football. No dirty fouls, no cynical kicks and no time-wasting tricks like Chelsea did against us last season. They were quite disciplined and resilient about it all and so, I give them kudos for that.

    However, it’s not that I’m happy or sad about the loss but I must express my displeasure as regards the type of embarrassing goals we have been incessantly conceding. A simple clearance from either our opponents’ ‘keeper or defenders almost always causes a scare and more often than not, a goal. By now, I thought Tito would have checked that by instilling some defensive discipline in our centerbacks. Just what would it cost our CBs (or at least one of the two CBs) to STAY PUT RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE 18-YARD BOX? Just what?!?!?! We’ve conceded too many silly goals from this defensive negligence. Those I can remember are the ones against Chelsea last season & against Madrid, Celta de Vigo and Celtic this season. Seriously, enough is enough!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m sure it is now glaring to those who still had doubts that Valdez is an average ‘keeper at best (actually, which ‘keeper wouldn’t be with the kind of pattern we play?). We almost always keep the ball for most parts of a match but the little moment our opponents get the ball and hoof it away aimlessly and most times hopelessly, you know a trouble is looming because our snail-slow center backs are always in the midfield zone – that’s just ridiculous. So, all Valdez needs is a tidy-enough defensive cover and all’ll be fine. Instead, annoyingly and frustratingly, our snail-slow defenders keep inconsequentially drifting towards the midfield area thereby leaving Valdez at sea, all by himself. Pathetic!!!!! I’ve actually been airing this issue for some time now and I’m alarmed that Tito still haven’t worked on avoiding the concession of these type of silly goals especially knowing how difficult it always is for us to score against such ‘park the bus’ tactics that almost every team is adopting against us now. Well, better to lose such matches than losing in the liga but, I seriously hope our defenders — more precisely, CBs — will begin to show more defensive discipline and play more to their strength knowing how irritatingly slow they are.

    Well, it’s all good. On to the weekend match.

    Visca Barca!!!!!
    Forca Barca!!!!!

  6. layibiyi says:

    One of them frustrating games. I expect cules to be familiar with these kind of games over this era. It only becomes a problem when the same scenario plays out one too many times. I hope it galvanizes us too.

    On to the next game!!

    P.S. if there’s something we can take away from this game, I think it should be that Tito should aim to effect the game earlier when we come up against these kind of teams, and are deadlocked or behind. I know out style is a patient one and our coaches aren’t confrontational like Mourinho who can substitute a player within the first 30 mins, but we could still shuffle around the players on the pitch a bit more. If we are behind and the opposition is definitely defending with 10 men, we should be able to make subs by halftime if we aren’t getting a lot of penetration. Just my opinion.

  7. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:


    Knowing the fact that some opponents like Celtic will play 10 men behind the ball,,pick their moments and go on the counter….

    Shouldn’t we just go for a 2 DM strategy similar to the Spanish National team under VDB. Busquets as the deep lying playmaker and Song as the DM. Both pretty good defensively as far as defensive midfielders count??? NO?? Not good?? Yes?? Would this change affect our creativity?? Do take note that Song as also proven in Arsenal that he could provide several assist in a season when needed,,,which in my mathematical count indicates that we should not have problems in supplying the killer ball forward from them when needed as well. My point is, if we played 2 DM’s (both that have reasonable height and strength) …we would atleast have more balance in defense.

    I felt in the future especially in Champions League games where conceding goals plays a huge factor as much as scoring does and in a similar encounter as last night we could have gotten a result with a

    Montoya————- Bartra……..Pique……….Alba—————–


    With the starting line up above,,,i must say we won’t have many 5-0 wins….BUT WE WILL WIN ALOT OF TROPHIES at the end of the season.

    With out high line and with so many central midfielders pushing ahead trying to join the front 3 or trying to break down the bus as the current tactical line up indicates….WE WILL BE VERY EXPOSED TO COUNTER ATTACK / FOOLISH GOALS. Pls share your thoughts people.

  8. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Also on the point that i feel Busquets could add more physical ability to his game by MUSCLING UP….no need to be real big…..but ATLEAST A LITTLE BIGGER IN BULK(he is so stick thin,,,MY GAWD!!!)) anybody disagrees?? This is especially needed when defending corner kicks and attacking opponents high cross. Disagree??

  9. barcacentralomer says:

    First of all congrats to Celtic on a fabulous performance and a well deserved win. They played to their strengths and made the most of their chances to clinch the match.

    The makeshift Barca defence continues to be below par. Bartra made some mistakes but the young CBs are going to learn from such errors and hopefully improve with time. We have also been a bit unfortunate with Puyol and Abidal – our two best defenders being sidelined for quite some time. Maybe Tito and Co. will give up on the ‘lets try and convert another player into a CB’ experiment. It worked in Abidals’s case and while Mascherano has performed reasonably well on the whole, he’s still not as convincing as a natural CB like Puyol and Pique.

    While a lot of Barca fans (like me) continue to harp on about our defence, IMO we seem to be squandering too many chances upfront as well. Messi can’t be expected to win every match for us. Villa is coming back from injury but Alexis needs to do much more to justify his 30 million something transfer fee. Pedro and the promising yet raw Tello represent very good options on the bench however we seem to be over-reliant on Messi’s goals.

    Finally teams like Chelski and Celtic have proved that they can make us pay by parking the bus and hitting us on the counter. Some people may diasgree but perhaps Tito needs to come up with a more effective strategy to neutralise this ‘hit Barca on the counter’ ploy. I’m still not convinced that the 3-4-3 can work with the shoddy Barca defence at present.

  10. Pingback: Champions League Preview: Celtic vs FC Barcelona | barçacentral

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