Celtic FC defender Gary Caldwell believes his side are ready to "go further than we did last year" as they meet FC Barcelona for a place in the quarter-finals.
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Celtic FC defender Gary Caldwell aims to go one better than last season as the Scottish title-holders target a place in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. In the 2006/07 first knockout round, Celtic held AC Milan to a goalless draw over 180 minutes before Kaká settled the tie in extra time at San Siro – according to Caldwell, that experience will stand them in good stead against FC Barcelona.
'Keep them out'
"There's definitely no fear," said Caldwell, who may switch from his favoured centre-back berth to cover for cup-tied former Sevilla FC right-back Andreas Hinkel. Paul Hartley and youngster Paul Caddis are other candidates for the right-back berth. "There's an expectation you can progress and go further than last year," Caldwell continued. "That's what we're setting out to do. We want to progress as a club and to do that we have to get into the next round. Milan as a team have a different attitude and play a different way. Barcelona are all-out attack and are probably the best team in the world to watch at the minute. When they go forward, they go forward with pace. They have some tremendous players and we will have to be on our guard to keep them out."
While full of admiration for the striking options available to Barcelona, the 25-year-old Scottish international insists Celtic have their own flair players – especially Republic of Ireland midfielder Aiden McGeady, who has been inspirational in recent weeks. "Aiden's the form player," Caldwell said. "If you were watching the games recently, he's on top of his form. Obviously [Lionel] Messi for them is a big danger like many others in their squad, but I'm sure they'll be as worried about Aiden as we'll be about their players. [Shunsuke] Nakamura is another who can produce something different from free-kicks, as he showed in the two games against Manchester United [FC] last season."
Celtic's home form has been crucial in taking them into the last 16 for the second successive season, with last-gasp wins in Glasgow against Milan and FC Shakhtar Donetsk complementing the scalp of SL Benfica. Caldwell now wants Celtic Park – where 16 UEFA Champions League matches have brought 12 wins and only one defeat, against Barcelona in the 2004/05 group stage – to inspire the players to new heights. "Celtic Park is a special place on European nights and it will be again on Wednesday," he said. "Hopefully, that will be the extra ingredient that will help us get the result we want."