How Barcelona Will Line Up Against Celtic in Champions League Play

Tre' AtkinsonFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2013

CARTAGENA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 06:  The Barcelona team pay tribute with one minute silence for the passing of Nelson Mandela prior to the Copa del Rey, Round of 32 match between FC Cartagena and FC Barcelona at Estadio Cartagonova on December 06, 2013 in Cartagena, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Barcelona are just one win away from securing the top spot in Champions League Group H. They will host Celtic on Wednesday in a match that will surely produce thrilling play, but for La Blaugrana, it is all about winning.

The official squad list was posted on the club's official website and a few big names remain out of action. Of course, both Victor Valdes and Lionel Messi will be sidelined for a while, but Dani Alves was also missing.

The Catalans desperately need a convincing win on Wednesday after recent results and fans should expect Tata Martino to start his strongest lineup.

Just how will Barcelona line up against Celtic? Let's take a look.



BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 23:  Marc Bartra of FC Barcelona fights for the ball Murillo of Granada CF with the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Granda CF at Camp Nou on November 23, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

With Victor Valdes out of the squad, there is no question about who will take his spot. Jose Pinto will continue in goal and will be looking for a much-needed clean sheet.

Last weekend Adriano and Jordi Alba both started in Copa del Rey action, but Martino would be wise not to risk both left-backs again. Expect Alba to return to the starting lineup with Martin Montoya taking the spot of Alves on the right.

Martino has a big decision to make when it comes to the center-back pairing.

Though Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano have been his choice starters, he must take into account the importance of Marc Bartra this season.

I expect Bartra finally tp get the nod in a game in which he is desperately needed. Alongside the 22-year-old should be Gerard Pique who has formed the best pairing for Barcelona so far this season.



Martino really has no choice when it comes to picking his midfield.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 01:  Xavi Hernandez of FC Barcelona duels for the ball with Victor Sanchez (L) and Sergio Garcia of RCD Espanyol during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou on November 1, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain
David Ramos/Getty Images

Cesc Fabregas is suspended, meaning Xavi and Andres Iniesta will continue to play alongside each other in the midfield. The duo has performed well this season and will be the key against Celtic.

Behind the duo will be none other than Sergio Busquets.

In a game of this magnitude, Martino cannot take a chance on Alex Song. Busquets is too important to Barcelona and is also the player that impacts the game more than anyone else.



With Fabregas unavailable for the match, Neymar makes the most sense to start in place of Lionel Messi. There has even been discussion on Twitter that the decision has already been made.

Alexis Sanchez should once again find himself in the starting lineup as he has been Barcelona's most consistent player with Messi out injured. 

The real question is who will play on the left side of Neymar.

Pedro has been in fine form lately and his experience could play a vital role. At the same time, Cristian Tello is also available and his speed and explosiveness could be a difference maker.

Though this match has Tello's name all over, I expect Martino will stick with Pedro on the left due to his experience.



This is the closest thing to a must-win match that Barcelona have seen all season. I predict that La Blaugrana will be victorious and win the group, scoring at least two goals.

It will be a very tight affair and the win won't come easy. However, I also expect the Catalans to keep a clean sheet with Marc Bartra leading the defense.

The next round of Champions League awaits Barcelona and things won't be getting any easier.


Who do you think will start for Barcelona? How will the match play out? Leave your thoughts and comments below.