Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Champions League: Celtic look for Barcelona repeat

The second week of the 2013/14 Champions League.

A fashion parade for European football`s most powerful, a competition borne from the game's obsession with money.

Yet a tournament that can still give us a display of the beautiful juxtapositions that sport makes possible.

This evening Celtic host Barcelona in Glasgow. Last Tuesday night Celtic were being knocked out of the Scottish League Cup by Morton.

If Celtic can repeat last year's famous win then the playground logic surely follows: Morton could finish tonight as a better team than Barcelona.

A nonsense of course. But the Champions League in its current form was not designed to give Scottish clubs a platform - so we should cherish a game that links the brilliance of Barcelona with the lower reaches of the SPFL Championship.

Can Celtic trump that brilliance?

A big, big ask. The absence of Lionel Messi robs the match of its shiniest star but Celtic and Barcelona continue to inhabit different planets.

Last year's win is evidence that it can be done - but it doesn't make tonight`s job any easier.

The first round of games pointed to a maturing of Celtic - a more patient side, more comfortable keeping the ball, firmer in the conviction that they deserve to be on this stage. Yet none of that mattered in the end. For all the plaudits, for all the progress, they lost 2-0 to AC Milan.

There`s always a chance though. Get the game plan right, get every man to stick to it, ride your luck, hope your opponents aren't as ruthless as they can be.

Miracles can happen.

Just ask Morton.

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