CELTIC 0 - BARCELONA 1
Barcelona break Celtic's wall
Neymar assumed the leadership, Barta confirmed his improvement and Valdés made his standard miraculous save. Cesc scored with a header in 76'.
Playing at Celtic Park is a bit like chewing screws while the locals bite your ankles. But as the fans have a good song in them everyone loves Celtic, despite them having one of the most horrendous styles of football in Europe, based on putting 10 players in their own box and kicking everything that moves. And even when it’s on the ground and isn’t moving, kick it anyway for good measure. (See Brown on Neymar). In summary, Celtic at home is about the worst enemy Barcelona could face and exactly why the 0-1 triumph of the Catalans is a milestone for the newborn Tata era. It was a game of patience and courage in equal parts.
The Barcelona Orchestra played the expected music, in spite of the absence of their virtuoso soloist. Without Messi all the players were ready to step forward to face Celtic slamming and kicking the door shut on them. The kicking part was cheered to the rafters by these fans who sing so nicely.
From Valdés to Neymar, including Bartra - who made it clear someone needs to give an explanation as to why he was used so little last season – all of Barça’s players put in a solid shift in a difficult ground and against a rival who stifle like few others. Winning at Celtic Park gives anyone’s self confidence a boost.
From the start Barcelona controlled the match, showing oodles of patience and hoping that the Scottish bravehearts would eventually tire. Celtic, with Samaras as the only target man, looked to hit on the break and for dead ball situations, while Barcelona moved the ball from side to side looking for the white and green waters to part. The whole of the first half though saw the visitors come up against the Celtic wall.
Quarter of an hour after the restart the Celtic captain Brown lost the plot and having downed Neymar gave him a kick in the kidneys. It was a clear red that should probably also have an additional ban added on, to set an example. The nice singing fans applauded the kick, just like those in the middle ages applauded decapitations.
With one less Celtic had to reinforce their initial plan. To park the bus there’s no real need to have 11. In fact they attacked better and Valdés had to pull out his usual miracle to save Barça with an outstanding stop in 73’ from a Matthews shot. But that was Celtic’s swansong. Two minutes later, Alexis, in his first touch since coming on, sent a cross over from a counter that Cesc headed home perfectly.
From there to the end the Scots increased their levels of violence and Forster augmented his status as a legend, preventing Neymar and Alexis from finishing off the game. The keeper was the last one to man the Celtic wall. He was also the only one not to hand out a kicking.