As I thought, it was too much to hope for. I didn’t really think that Celtic would overturn Barcelona last night and they didn’t. Instead the Catalan giants knocked in an early goal taking their aggregate margin to 4-2. And that was how it finished.
Celtic looked out of sorts throughout the first half and at times it looked as if Barcelona had 15 men on the park. They were everywhere! Working very hard to close Celtic down especially when either Aiden McGeady or Shunsuke Nakamura got the ball. Clearly, they’d done their homework.
Things were different in the second half. Evander Sno came on for Massimo Donati and there was an immediate improvement in the centre of the park. Celtic started to look much more confident and McGeady & Nakamura started to have an impact. When Samaras and then McDonald were introduced things improved again. But, even though Barcelona became more casual as the game went on, they never looked in any danger of letting their control slip. Both McDonald and Nakamura came close to netting a consolation goal before Celtic’s vain hope of a last 8 place slipped away.
Despite Barcelona being the better team last night and the fact that they clearly have an exceptional squad, I don’t think they look like a side that will win this seasons Champion’s League. I think they have a tendency to be both too casual and too flashy – they (Deco particularly) lost the ball on a number of occasions last night when tricks failed to come off. The remaining teams in the competition will be much better than Celtic at punishing them for such failings.