first leg : 3-2
FC Barcelona and Celtic FC want to provide another feast of UEFA Champions League football at the Camp Nou as this first knockout round, second-leg tie promises a repeat of the thriller at Celtic Park.
In assessing the match, home coach Frank Rijkaard unhesitatingly put spectacle and entertainment on a par with the more pragmatic task of capitalising on the 3-2 lead established two weeks ago. The coach has now faced Celtic three times in UEFA competition since arriving in Barcelona in 2003 and has learned sufficient lessons not to believe, even with a healthy advantage, that the Scottish champions will be anything other than a firm test.
“Celtic are a really good side and I don’t think there is a massive difference between us. We have a history of playing each other in recent years but, to me, it is this challenge at the Camp Nou, rather than the results of the last few years, which is important to focus on. Champions League nights at the Camp Nou really are wonderful and we love playing them. Our goal is always to give our public spectacle, great football and the right result. It’s an important combination for our fans.
In fact, Celtic’s two previous results at Barcelona, in the 2003/04 UEFA Cup and the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League, were valiant draws. That would not be sufficient to overcome the deficit from the first match, where two terrific goals from Lionel Messi and one from Thierry Henry brought Barça back from 1-0 and 2-1 down. Yet it would allow Celtic and their large band of travelling fans to extend their notable record in Catalonia. “I am certain Celtic are preparing to put on a great performance,” agreed Rijkaard. “But the Champions League is very, very important to us. We’ll do our job.”
The hosts are still missing the injured Rafael Márquez and also do without Edmílson and Giovani Dos Santos – but Messi and Yaya Touré should be available. As for Gordon Strachan, the Celtic manager is fully aware that a task of immense proportions lies ahead of him and his players. Celtic have not won away in 16 UEFA Champions League matches while, in the group stage, Barcelona won all three home games with eight goals scored and only one conceded.
‘Fear, determination, excitement’
“There’s nothing wrong with a bit of fear,” said Strachan. “It can push you on to greater things. I hope that before the match my players feel a mixture of fear, determination and excitement. When we have the ball, I’d like my players to make Barça fear us.” Defender Mark Wilson, who came on after several months out injured in the first leg, is fit to feature for the Scottish title-holders who have a full complement of players.
Mountain to climb
“We are angry that individually and collectively we didn’t play our best in the first game,” continued Strachan. “My team must hold on to the ball better and be braver in what we do with our possession. This may be the football equivalent of climbing Everest but people have conquered Everest. It’s just that some who tried didn’t make it back!”
©uefa.com 1998-2008. All rights reserved.
sumber : uefa.com