Buoyant Barça await Celtic visit

FC Barcelona have the advantage going into their UEFA Champions League first knockout round second leg after twice coming from behind to win at Celtic FC.

Lionel Messi enjoys one of his two goals at Celtic Park
Lionel Messi enjoys one of his two goals at Celtic Park ©Getty Images

FC Barcelona have the advantage going into their UEFA Champions League first knockout round return leg after twice coming from behind to inflict a 3-2 home defeat on Celtic FC. For the Scottish champions to progress, they must do something they have never previously achieved in the competition: record a victory on foreign soil.

• Two Lionel Messi strikes either side of a superb Thierry Henry goal sealed a vital first-leg victory for the Catalan giants in Glasgow, but they were made to work for their win, with Celtic taking the lead twice – first through Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, then UEFA Champions League debutant Barry Robson. The defeat was only Celtic's second loss in 17 home UEFA Champions League matches, following their 3-1 defeat by the same opponents in the 2004/05 group stage.

• Now Frank Rijkaard's side will be looking to rely on their home form to carry them into the last eight. In the group stage they won all three fixtures at Camp Nou with eight goals scored and only one conceded, to VfB Stuttgart's Antonio da Silva on Matchday 6.

• It is the second time the stadium has played host to Scottish visitors in this season's competition with Rangers FC going down 2-0 on 7 November when Henry and Messi were again on the scoresheet.

• However, that was only the fourth time Barça had welcomed a team from Scotland to their own ground in UEFA competition and, remarkably, the first time they had recorded a win. They drew 1-1 with Celtic in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League group stage and 0-0 with the same side in the previous year's UEFA Cup fourth round. Both in the latter tie, and again when they faced Dundee United FC in the 1986/87 UEFA Cup quarter-final, the Spanish side suffered an aggregate defeat. The home game against Dundee United had ended in a 2-1 reverse.

• The Blaugrana met disappointment at this stage last season when, as reigning champions, they went out on aggregate to Liverpool FC, the 2005 winners. They lost 2-1 in the home game and while Eidur Gudjohnsen gave them a second-leg win at Anfield it was not enough to keep Barcelona in the competition.

• Last season Celtic qualified for the knockout stages for the first time at the fourth attempt. They were paired with AC Milan, drawing 0-0 at home before Kaká's extra-time goal proved decisive in the return. They were back alongside the San Siro giants in this season's group stage and a 1-0 defeat in the northern Italy city completed a sequence of three away defeats in Group D. Nevertheless Gordon Strachan's side finished as runners-up, four points behind Milan, having won all three home games. 

• Now, to go further than ever before in Europe's premier club competition, Celtic will have to surpass their normal away form. Their 16 previous away games in the competition proper, excluding qualifying round ties, have produced 15 defeats and one draw – the Camp Nou fixture in 2004.

• It is perhaps surprising that Celtic have had, out of their trips to play Spanish opponents, their best results at Barcelona, forcing draws on each of their two visits. In contrast, they have encountered defeat at Villarreal FC, RC Celta de Vigo, Valencia CF, Real Sociedad de Fútbol, Real Madrid CF and Club Atlético de Madrid with only a 1-1 away draw against Atlético in the 1985/86 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup first round preventing a clean sweep of losses against those teams.

Top