Barcelona's 2-1 Champions League Victory over Celtic in Numbers
Statistics never provide the complete picture of a football match. The beautiful game is one of many subtleties and nuances.
Every now and again, however, we watch a game which can only be vivified by numbers. Last night's Champions League clash between Barcelona and Celtic FC of Glasgow was such a game.
Against the run of play, Georgios Samaras put the Celts up 0-1 off a set piece in the 18th minute, prompting Neil Lennon's men to sit back and protect their unexpected lead.
Yes, for Barca fans it was going to be another one of those nights. The bus, the plane, whatever you want to call it, it was definitely parked by the green and white hoops at the Camp Nou.
Iniesta provided the equaliser on halftime, but it would take another agonising half of football to find the winner. Jordi Alba poked home Adriano's late cross, and 2-1 was the final score in Barcelona.
On a night of such one-sided football, players racked up some impressive statistical achievements and a number of records were broken. Let's take a closer look.
82: Percent of Possession Held by Barcelona
The Blaugrana enjoyed a monumental 82 percent of ball possession against Celtic, the fourth highest percentage ever in a Champions League game.
This included an incredible 821 completed passes on the night.
Interestingly, of the 23 highest percentages of possession in Champions League history, Barcelona have collected 22.
177: Passes by Xavi Hernandez
Passmaster Xavi attempted 183 passes on the night, completing a record 177, the most ever by a single player in a Champions League game.
His risk-free passing game can be frustrating against stubborn opposition, but he did provide an exquisite assist for Andres Iniesta just before halftime.
Are telepathic connections allowed in football?
8: Number of Saves Made by Celtic Keeper Fraser Forster
Since August 2003, no Celtic goalkeeper made as many saves in a Champions League match as Fraser Forster made last night.
He stopped eight of Barca's incredible 28 shots (one can only imagine how many he would have made if the Blaugrana had managed to get more than 10 of those on target).
This save was arguably his best, a superb reactive save to stop Messi from point-blank range.
15: Marc Bartra
The young Catalan central defender was finally given his deserved chance due to the club's mounting defensive casualties.
Alongside Mascherano, the 21-year-old played with characteristic poise and elegance and arguably outshone the experienced Argentine.
He made five successful tackles, blocked one shot, made three interceptions and completed all five of his attempted clearances. In the latter two categories, he made the most of any Barcelona player.
7: Number of Times Barca Have Hit the Post This Season
Barca's No. 7 David Villa became the sixth Barca player to hit the woodwork this season when his late shot cannoned off Forster's far post.
Messi (twice), Cesc, Montoya, Tello and Thiago have also seen efforts unluckily denied by woodwork.
12: Goals Scored by Barca in the Last 15 Minutes of Games This Season
Barca are becoming comeback kings of late.
Twelve of their 35 goals scored this season have come in the last 15 minutes of games. Further, of the 11 games won under Tito Vilanova, seven of those have been won after the 75th minute.
Talk about entertainers!
1: Celtic Shots on Target
Celtic scored one on the night through a Georgios Samaras header. It was also the only shot on target by a Celtic player.
Arguably it was not even Samaras' goal. It actually came off Barca's Javier Mascherano late and looked more than a simple deflection. The Argentine, though, will not be complaining about the decision.
0: Minutes Played by Jonathan Dos Santos This Season
With Sergio Busquets out and Alex Song consistently playing in the back four, Dos Santos could have been forgiven for hoping he would finally get a chance last night. Certainly, if Barca had been cruising he might have. Barca's No. 12, however, will have to continue to wait.
His patience will probably be rewarded next week in a cup game against Deportivo Alaves, but does Jonathan just need to take a hint?
10: Effective Clearances Made by Efe Ambrose
Celtic's defensive effort was more collective than of individual brilliance, but centre back Efe Ambrose arguably stood out.
The Nigerian cleared the ball 17 times from his defence, and did so effectively 10 of those times.
18: Goals Conceded Under Tito Vilanova
He has only lost one game, but 18 goals conceded in just 13 games does not make for good reading.
Of course, injury has plagued the Blaugrana defence, but Tito had all summer to strengthen the centre of his back four. Relying on the fitness of Puyol and the form of Mascherano and Song should never have been an option.
Clearly there is room for improvement.
6: The Number of Successful Passes from Forster to Samaras
If you want a good indication of how Celtic played at the Camp Nou, take a look at this statistic.
Celtic's most successful pass was the long ball from goalkeeper Forster to striker Samaras. It was made six times, more than any other passing combination.
To put that into perspective, Xavi made 30 passes to Pedro alone, Barca's most successful combination.
1,100: Days Since Barcelona Last Lost at the Camp Nou in the Champions League
October 20, 2009 was the last time Los Cules lost a match at home in the Champions League. On that night, Russians Rubin Kazan stunned Barca with a 1-2 victory playing on the counter.
It has been 1,100 days since then, and the Camp Nou continues to be the scariest place to travel in world football.
[All statistics via WhoScored.com and Opta.]
Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think and maybe you have some stats to share of your own.
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