Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Barcelona are hoping to avoid seeing Celtic celebrate at Glasgow they way did back in November. Scott Heppell / AP Photo
Barcelona are hoping to avoid seeing Celtic celebrate at Glasgow they way did back in November. Scott Heppell / AP Photo

Barcelona aware of Celtic’s fan force

Barcelona travel to Celtic aiming to learn their lessons from last season's 1-0 defeat and expecting a "brilliant" atmosphere.

Celtic welcome Barcelona to Glasgow on Tuesday night in their first Uefa Champions League Group H home game of the season.

The Catalans are overwhelming favourites to win the group and started their campaign with a 4-0 victory over Ajax, yet Celtic are familiar foes and they beat Barcelona 2-1 in Scotland 11 months ago.

That victory, to coincide with Celtic’s 125th anniversary, helped them qualify for the knockout stages of last season’s competition. It was also memorable for its atmosphere.

Crowds have dipped at Celtic Park for domestic games. A decade ago, it was full to its 60,000 capacity most weeks for league games. The average dropped to 46,917 last season and is 45,362 so far this term, but Champions League matches are almost always packed, with an atmosphere to rival the best in Europe.

Given their team’s technical inferiority against Europe’s best sides, this can really make a difference.

“The fans are really powerful and they help Celtic a lot,” said the Barcelona defender Gerard Pique. “I think the atmosphere is brilliant. It’s one of the best in Europe by far. Some Barcelona fans need to go there to see it because it’s a great experience.”

Barca appeared to be caught up in the emotion of the event last season.

“I think we played a good game and controlled the ball most of the time, but they had two chances and scored twice,” said Pique. “We have to learn from that.”

Celtic have a habit of drawing Barcelona in European competition and the Catalan players love going to Glasgow.

After the teams met in 2003/04, two of the players vowed to return as fans to sample an Old Firm game.

One, Luis Enrique, did just that.

“I went with friends and stood with the fans,” he explained. “I wore the scarf. I wanted to hear ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ before the game, to feel it as a fan. What a great atmosphere. I love the concept of following your team.”

Xavi is the other player, but he is still playing for Barca. He regularly mentions the atmosphere at Celtic in interviews.

And he should know.

He was part of the side that played in the 2003/04 Uefa Cup fourth round. Again, Celtic won at Parkhead and a draw at Barcelona was enough to see them through.

Barcelona won on both their subsequent visits to Celtic, though the Scots have won seven of their past nine European fixtures in Glasgow, the one defeat coming against Juventus in last season’s round of 16.

Celtic are buoyed by the news that they will not have to face Lionel Messi, who will be out of Tuesday night’s match with a thigh injury which will keep him sidelined for two to three weeks.

He left the pitch after 29 minutes in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Almeria which keeps the Catalans at the top of the Spanish Primera Liga with seven wins from seven.

Only Atletico Madrid, who defeated neighbours Real in the Madrid derby on Saturday, have been able to match their seven victories.


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Floyd Mayweather lands punches on trainer Nate Jones on Tuesday at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas ahead of his May 3 championship unification bout with Marcos Maidana. Ethan Miller / Getty Images / AFP / April 22, 2014

In pictures: Floyd Mayweather trains for Maidana fight

Images from earlier in the week as Floyd Mayweather trained at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas ahead of his May 3 championship unification fight with Marcos Maidana.

 UAE rugby player Adam Telford, right, catches the ball during a Test match against Singapore at The Sevens ground in Dubai on Wednesday. UAE lost the Asian 5 Nations match 30-13 to be relegated to the third tier of Asian rugby. Sarah Dea / The National / April 23, 2014

In pictures: UAE rugby in action against Singapore

Images from the Asian Five Nations Test for UAE rugby against Singapore on Wednesday night at The Sevens ground in Dubai.

 Ravindra Jadeja of Chennai Super Kings playing a shot in their Indian Premier League win over Rajasthan Royals at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday. Jadeja scored 36 runs not out from 33 balls. Pawan Singh / The National / April 23, 2014

In pictures: Chennai Super Kings notch win behind do-everything Jadeja

Images from Wednesday night's Indian Premier League match in Dubai, where Ravindra Jadeja led Chennai Super Kings over Rajasthan Royals.

 Chris Gayle has been the most feared batsman in the Royal Challengers Bangalore line-up since he joined the team in 2011. Indranil Mukherjee / AFP

Parthiv continues to fill Gayle’s big shoes for Bangalore

Indian wicketkeeper-batsman will continue to open the innings for Royal Challengers with the West Indian still nursing his bad back, writes Paul Radley.

 Dana Shamlawi pulls a 4x4 car during the final day of the UAE Strongman Competition in Dubai. Delores Johnson / The National

UAE Strongman Competition takes weight training to a whole new scale

Two-day competition in Dubai attracts men and women from across the Emirates and proves it takes more than just bulky muscles to win, writes Ali Khaled.

 UAE’s Charlie Sargent tries to avoid a tackle by Singapore team members during the one-off Division 1 Test at The Sevens. The Singapore-born winger was making his debut. Sarah Dea / The National

Asian Five Nations: UAE go into rebuilding mode in Division 2

With a new look squad, including five emerging Emirati players, the UAE will hope to restructure and get into the winning habit in more forgiving climes when they drop a level in the revamped competition next season.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National