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By Graham Hunter in Barcelona
Frank Rijkaard's advice to his FC Barcelona team ahead of the UEFA Cup fourth round second-leg visit of Celtic FC was simple: "Don't panic."
The Dutch coach is the architect of an impressive domestic and European revival by the Catalan club, and although he is confident of overcoming Celtic's 1-0 lead from the first game he understands it may be a tense night. "I'm looking forward to this because it is two great clubs fighting for a place in the next round," he said. "Celtic are a powerful and skilful side and we have to be ready to battle for a place in the next round.
"Their style is difficult to play against and some teams, even if you offer them space to play in, will opt for the long ball regardless. Your tactical plan can just be bypassed by that style because the ball just whizzes over the heads of your players. And then when you get the ball Celtic press and press.
We just have to get our mentality right and be sure not to panic even if they score."
Barça have undoubtedly got their mentality spot-on in the Primera División, Ronaldinho sealing their ninth successive win with a superb 88th-minute free-kick against Real Sociedad de Fútbol on Sunday. The victory leaves the third-placed Catalans just six points adrift of leaders Real Madrid CF, another side seeking glory both in Spain and Europe.
With Javier Saviola and Thiago Motta suspended along with Celtic goalkeeper Rab Douglas following first-leg dismissals, both coaches must make changes. Rijkaard is awaiting results of a late test on Carles Puyol's groin - Rafael Márquez stands by - and must also decide whether to field Luis García, the winger who has only just returned from a knee injury.
David Marshall will deputise for Douglas at Camp Nou, the 19-year-old having started the three Scottish Premier League games since his half-time introduction a fortnight ago in Glasgow. Striker Chris Sutton is fit to play his first game since 3 March and could yet replace another suspended player, Bobo Balde, in the centre of the visiting defence. Another contender, Stanislav Varga, and first-leg scorer Alan Thompson also trained on Wednesday along with Liam Miller.
Celtic defender Jackie McNamara said of the task facing his team: "We know that Barcelona are going to come at us and we will have to defend exceptionally well as a team. We got an away goal on a number of occasions last season on the way to the UEFA Cup final and we are capable of scoring here too."
The veteran's manager, Martin O'Neill, believes that Celtic will rise to the occasion but understands that this is a huge test. "
We would ideally need every big player against the side playing the best football in Spain but that won't happen," he said. "We might be driven back but we must score here, in my opinion, and we will set out to do that." Villarreal CF or AS Roma await the winners.
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