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Barca need a point and convincing display at home to Celtic in CHampions League

English.news.cn   2013-12-10 20:37:50            

MADRID, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- FC Barcelona coach Tata Martino knows his side still have some homework to do when they entertain Glasgow Celtic in the Camp Nou Stadium.

Barca's surprise defeat away to Ajax two weeks ago means that they still have to assure first place in their group and thus a theoretically easier draw in the knockout stages of the competition.

In order to do that, Barca need a draw against the Scottish Champions, who although they are certain to be cheered on by thousands of loyal fans, have nothing to play for given that they are certain to finish bottom of the group and have no options of even taking a place in the Europa League.

Nevertheless, recent magnificent domestic results, which have seen them thrash Motherwell and Hearts scoring 12 goals in process, show that Celtic are in fine form and will have to be taken seriously, especially as there are still questions to be answered over Barca's current form.

Martino's side ended their two game running streak with a 4-1 win away to third tier side Cartagena on Friday night, but it is hard to judge Barca's performance against a team which includes several semi-professional footballers.

What Barca need to do is to produce a convincing display in which they are able to dominate possession, something they have not been doing in recent matches.

To do that Martino will bring Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta back into his side, with Sergio Busquets playing in front of the defense.

Cesc Fabrigas is suspended for the game and that will mean Neymar plays in a more central role, while Pedro Rodriguez, who scored twice in Cartagena and Alexis Sanchez should provide pace in support.

One option open to Martino, who may have half an eye on the vital Primera Liga clash at home to Villarreal at the weekend, could be to include Alex Song in midfield and push Iniesta into a more advanced role.

Song has been in good form of late and has benefitted from being pushed into a more advanced midfield role, similar to that in which he was so successful at Arsenal.

Jordi Alba provided good news on Friday when he returned after 10 weeks out injured and the Spain international will get more game time on Wednesday, be it from the start or as a substitute, while Victor Valdes' continued absence with a calf problem sees Jose Pinto continue in goal.

A point will be enough for Barca, but more than that, they need to convince, otherwise the alarm bells which rang in Amsterdam and Bilbao will continue to ring until at least the weekend.


Martino relieved after Barca Cup win

MADRID, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- FC Barcelona coach Tata Martino was able to breathe a sigh of relief following his side's 4-1 win away to Cartagena in the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie on Friday night.

Going into the game against a team two categories below them and on the back of two defeats which have set alarm bells ringing, Barca fell behind to an early goal, but were able to turn the score around before halftime thanks to goals from Pedro Rodriguez and Cesc Fabrigas. Full story

Editor: Zhu Ningzhu
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