Barcelona return marks daunting start for Celtic

Celtic return to the scene of their joint heaviest European defeat when they visit five-times winners and Group C rivals Barcelona for a forbidding matchday one assignment.

Luis Suárez will come up against his old Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers
Luis Suárez will come up against his old Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers ©Getty Images

FC Barcelona open their Group C campaign against a Celtic FC side with unhappy memories of their last visit to Camp Nou.

• Celtic lost 6-1 to Barcelona in their last participation in the group stage in 2013 and face a tough start against the five-time winners on matchday one.

Previous meetings
• Barcelona beat Celtic 3-1 in a pre-season friendly in Dublin on 30 July this year. Although Leigh Griffiths cancelled out Arda Turan's opening effort, Efe Ambrose's own goal and a Munir El Haddadi strike secured the Azulgrana's victory.

• The starting XIs were:
Celtic: Gordon, Janko, Ambrose, O'Connell, Izaguirre, Brown, Bitton, McGregor, Roberts, Griffiths, Forrest.
Barcelona: Masip, Vidal, Camara, Mathieu, Roberto, Martinez, D Suárez, Arda Turan, L Suárez, Munir, Messi.

• Barcelona overcame Neil Lennon's Celtic home and away in the 2013/14 group stage. After a 1-0 success in Glasgow, Gerardo Martino's side triumphed 6-1 at home, Neymar hitting his first Barça hat-trick. Gerard Piqué, Pedro Rodríguez and Cristian Tello also scored with Georgios Samaras replying for a Celtic side suffering their joint heaviest European defeat (they lost 5-0 in UEFA Champions League qualifying against MFK Petržalka in 2005).

• The line-ups on 11 December 2013 were:
Barcelona: Pinto, Montoya, Piqué, Mascherano, Adriano, Xavi, Busquets (Song 73), Roberto, Sánchez (Tello 63), Neymar (Dongou 81), Rodríguez.
Celtic: Forster, Lustig, Van Dijk, Ambrose, Matthews (Stokes 82), Brown, Ledley, Bitton (Commons 79), Boerrigter, Samaras, Pukki (Mulgrew 46).

• Barcelona have won five of the teams' last six meetings, the exception being Celtic's 2-1 home win in 2012/13 when Victor Wanyama and Tony Watt got their goals.

• The clubs' overall head-to-head record from ten past meetings is six wins for Barcelona, two for Celtic and two draws.

Match background

• Spanish champions in 2015/16, Luis Enrique's team were also quarter-finalists in the UEFA Champions League where they were eliminated by Club Atlético de Madrid.

• Barcelona won all five home fixtures in last season's competition, extending their winning streak at the Camp Nou on European nights to 11.

• Barcelona's home record against Scottish sides is W4 D2 L1. That solitary loss was against Dundee United FC (1-2) in the 1986/87 UEFA Cup quarter-finals.

• The Scottish title holders are competing in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time since 2013/14.

• They secured their place in the group stage by defeating Gibraltar's Lincoln FC (3-1 agg), Kazakhstan's FC Astana (3-2 agg) and Israel's Hapoel Beer-Sheva FC (5-4 agg).

• Celtic are on an eight-match winless run on their travels in UEFA competition, including defeats at both Lincoln and Hapoel this season. They took two points away from home in last season's UEFA Europa League group stage, but did not win a single fixture home or away.

• Celtic are winless in 14 previous visits to face Liga opposition (D3 L11).

• Celtic lost the 2003 UEFA Cup final on Spanish soil, beaten 3-2 by FC Porto in Seville.

Coach and player links
• Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers worked with Luis Suárez at Liverpool FC between 2012 and 2014, the Uruguayan scoring 31 goals in 2013/14.

• Rodgers' Liverpool suffered home (0-3) and away (0-1) defeats by Real Madrid CF in the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League group stage.

• Kolo Touré was in the Arsenal FC side beaten 2-1 by Barcelona in the 2006 UEFA Champions League final, coming up against Andrés Iniesta.

• With AFC Ajax, Jasper Cillesen faced Celtic in the group stage of both the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League and the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League, losing just one of those four games.

• Gerard Piqué scored an own goal at Glasgow's Hampden Park in Spain's 3-2 win over Scotland in a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier in October 2010.

• Jordi Alba played against James Forrest when making his Spain debut in a 3-1 victory against Scotland in the return fixture in Alicante in 2011.

• Celtic coach John Kennedy played in the Hoops' 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou in March 2004 which secured his club a 1-0 aggregate victory over Barcelona in the 2003/04 UEFA Cup first round.

Players who have played together:
• Suárez & Touré (Liverpool, 2013/14) 

Match facts

• Saturday's 2-1 home loss to Deportivo Alavés ended a run of ten without defeat, scoring 38, keeping nine clean sheets and conceding just two in that time.

• Luis Enrique earned his 100th victory as Barça coach in the 1-0 win at Athletic Club on 28 August. It was his 126th game in charge, meaning he is the fastest Barça coach to achieve the milestone.

• Barcelona already have a trophy to their name this season, beating Sevilla FC 5-0 on aggregate in the Spanish Super Cup.

• Jérémy Mathieu returned from a knee injury to score on Saturday while Lionel Messi (groin) and Andrés Iniesta (knee) came off the bench. André Gomes has a knee injury.

All 86 of Messi’s European goals
All 86 of Messi’s European goals

• Messi announced his international retirement after Argentina's defeat by Chile in June's Copa América final but was back with the Albiceleste for the rematch in FIFA World Cup qualifying on 1 September. He scored the only goal.

• Neymar led Brazil to Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro this summer, missing the first four games of Barcelona's season. He relinquished the international captaincy before scoring in back-to-back games to go level with Zico on 48 goals in the country's all-time list.

• André Gomes made five appearances as Portugal won UEFA EURO 2016.

• Sergi Roberto scored his first senior international goal as Spain beat Liechtenstein 8-0 on 5 September.

How Celtic beat Barcelona in 2012
How Celtic beat Barcelona in 2012

• Brendan Rodgers was named Scottish manager of the month in August after leading Celtic to the top of the Scottish Premiership, the Scottish League Cup quarter-finals and into the UEFA Champions League group stage.

• Celtic have scored 31 goals in 11 competitive matches this season.

• Moussa Dembele's hat-trick against Rangers on Saturday was the first by a Celtic player in an 'Old Firm' league game since Stevie Chalmers in 1966.

• Celtic have won two out of five away from home this season.

• Scott Sinclair has registered in each of Celtic's four Premiership wins this season.

• Leigh Griffiths has scored seven goals in nine outings for Celtic this season. He was the five-goal joint leading scorer in UEFA Champions League qualifying.

• James Forrest is set to make his 50th appearance in UEFA club competition.

• Forrest (Scotland), Nir Bitton (Israel), Mikael Lustig (Sweden), Tom Rogic (Australia), Cristian Gamboa (Costa Rica) and Emilio Izaguirre (Honduras) were all on international duty last week.

*Subject to updates