Celtic vs. Barcelona: Stars to Watch in Champions League Group G Match
Barcelona rolled through the first set of Champions League matches, picking up three victories to take firm control of Group G and ensure a spot in the knockout stages. That includes a narrow 2-1 win over Celtic a couple weeks ago.
The rematch takes place on Wednesday at Celtic Park and the Bhoys will be looking to earn a result after watching a point slip away in the 94th minute in the last meeting. Let's take a lot at the stars who will have the biggest impact on the clash.
Kris Commons (Celtic)
Normally, striker Gary Hooper would receive the most attention for Celtic, but his status remains up in the air due to injury. If he's unavailable, the burden will fall on Commons to lead the way for the Bhoys in a critical fixture.
The 29-year-old winger made a cameo appearance off the bench in the first meeting, but has since fully recovered from a bothersome hamstring. He even netted a hat-trick against St. Johnstone in a League Cup match last week, giving every indication that he is fully recovered.
In order for Celtic to remain competitive in this match they have to play a sound defensive game and capitalize on their few opportunities. Barca is going to dominate possession, which means Commons must lead the counterattack charge to give the Bhoys a chance.
What will be the match result?
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
The Ballon d'Or candidate continues to impress on a weekly basis. His ability to be consistently dominant in basically every match he plays is unmatched in football, and is the main reason Barcelona is so difficult to play against.
Celtic found that out the hard way in the last match. Even though they were able to keep Messi off the scoresheet, the relentless pressure he put on the back line throughout the match opened the door for Jordi Alba to score a later winner.
Messi doesn't always score, but the cumulative effect he has on opposing defenders by attacking them throughout the match is always going to be a major advantage for Barca. It's simply impossible to watch a Barcelona match without seeing him work his magic.
Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
On a squad riddled with stars from Messi to Víctor Valdes and everybody in between, fans could pick out just about any player on the pitch for Barca to watch besides Messi. But one that has stood out from the crowd in recent seasons is Iniesta.
The Spanish international, who scored Barcelona's first goal in the previous match with Celtic, has developed into one of the most reliable players in Europe. And since Wednesday's match will be won in the midfield, Iniesta will play a leading role again.
If everything goes according to plan for the Blaugrana, he will spend a lot of time on the ball as they systemically control the pace and eventually the match. After a minor slump, he's been in fine form in recent weeks and that trend should continue.
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