McManus relishing Camp Nou challenge

Celtic FC captain Stephen McManus could not be more confident or more relaxed about the daunting task of facing Europe's "most talented" in the Catalan capital.

Celtic captain Stephen McManus
Celtic captain Stephen McManus ©Getty Images

Celtic FC captain Stephen McManus could not be more confident or more relaxed about the daunting task of facing FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou, despite trailing 3-2 from the first leg.

Travel trouble
To go further than ever before in the UEFA Champions League and reach the quarter-finals, Gordon Strachan's team must not only win – most likely by two clear goals – but they also have to end a sequence of 15 defeats and one draw in their last 16 away games in the competition. Some would be fearful, yet not the 25-year-old who has played every minute of Celtic's European campaign.

Great expectations
"We are all looking forward to this hugely," explained McManus. "I think we have nothing to fear for several reasons. First, the truth is that nobody outside the club has any expectations that we'll beat Barcelona. Second, we all know that when you face this team in the Camp Nou, it's an experience which you may never have again in your life so it's something to relish and to approach with anticipation. We must be confident and we just have to look forward to a great experience.

Fewer errors
Like Celtic manager Strachan, McManus believes the Scottish champions did not give an adequate account of themselves in the first leg when the Blaugrana came from behind twice to register a 3-2 win. As captain and on-pitch leader, McManus wants pragmatism to rule over spectacle when battle recommences. "You know I really don't care what kind of game it turns out to be, so long as we go through. Whether it's tense or it's attractive, the basics of the game don't change.

'Most talented squad'
"It's just that we've discovered that Barcelona seem to do the basics much better than anyone else in the world. I know they lost in La Liga at the weekend [4-2 at Club Atlético de Madrid] and we've seen bits of that game. However, our belief is that there is much more to learn from our first game against them. We had all seen Barça on television before but it's not until you actually play against Ronaldinho, Messi or Eto'o that you learn exactly how good they are. This is the most talented squad in world football, but we really relish the challenge."