But, as Fabregas pointed out yesterday in his press conference before the clash, Celtic Park can be a strange place to play football, let alone win there.The midfielder also said that the team has to move forward without Argentine ace Messi.
The game started with the usual passing game by Barca and it was at least 10 minutes before Celtic even got a sniff of the ball. Celtic were very well organised at the back and thwarted Barcelona’s attacks with relative ease. It was much of the same for the first half with the Catalans dominating ball possession save the odd counter attack by Celtic with Samaras up front trying to find a hole through the Barca defense.
It was nice football by Barcelona but much of what we have been accustomed to seeing over the last couple of years. It’s nice to be able to pass amongst your team mates and notch up tremendous ball-possession figures, but what is needed is some positive action up front.
Neymar was the only one that caused Celtic any worry with his speed and dribbling. Cesc scored the only goal of the game, Alexis came on for Pedro and had a great 20 minutes and Valdés stopped a great shot from Forrest moments before Fabregas found the net.
There was a sending off, too.Celtic’s Brown was sent off by the ref for aggression against Brazilian Neymar.
But neither Iniesta nor Xavi could find a way through until Alexis came on.He teamed up with Fabregas to slot home the solitary goal of the game.
The absence of Messi on the pitch was notable as he is the one that makes the difference in the sea of Barca’s ball possession merry-go-round.
Finally, that sets the tie up nicely for the return leg at the Nou Camp and with Barca nicely poised with a valuable away goal, it will make the job on Catalan soil that much easier. Having said that, Barca cannot afford to sleep on their laurels with Celtic as they are more than capable of finding the net.