Barcelona made a short shrift of Celtic at the Camp Nou, in a match that played out the very way book makers, pundits, analysts and unbiased spectators of the game had predicted it. The Scottish side were out-fought, out-thought and out-classed by the Catalonia giants in every facet of the game. While Barcelona players were treating viewers to the delightful brand of football they have earned global renown for in the last decade, the trite but factual saying that life does not offer a level playing ground became apparent. If the numerical parity of fielding eleven players on both teams makes the game of football an evenly matched contest, the qualitative disparity that was evident in Barcelona ruthless demolition of Celtic shows that the Scottish team was clearly punching above its weight.
The goals scored by the Spanish champions came in torrent. Messi scored a hat trick, and gave two assists that led to Luis Suarez scoring a double; Neymar converted a spectacular free kick from outside the visitors’ eighteen yard box and Andreas Iniesta, a second half substitute, scored a beauty of a volley from about 22 yard from the Celtic goal mouth.
The trio of Neymar, Suarez and Messi led Barcelona attack, with Neymar flanking Suarez on the left hand side and Messi on the right. Messi operating from the right flank always drove the ball to the stronger left foot in his onward movements toward Celtic’s goal mouth, in such instances his exchange of passes with Neymar almost always opened up the defensive line of Celtic. It was from such a move that the first two goals resulted.Jordl Alba and Neymar combined beautifully and effectively from the left flank, and always drove Celtic’s Tierney out of his position and thus created a hole for Messi to exploit at the centre of the goal mouth.
The inability or hesitance of Sergio Roberto to make attacking runs from his right full back position, like Alba did on the left flank , was the sole reason Suarez could not find a goal in the first half. As it stood in that match, had Roberto formed an attacking combination with Suarez and Messi on the right flank: opening would have been created in the first half for Suarez or Messi to attack the goal from that flank.
Andrea Gomes ,Rakitic and Buskets formed a compact unit in the mid-field; they sustained the tempo of Barcelona’s attack by fielding passes to their strikers up front, or recycling the ball with the defensive quartet of Umtiti,Pique, Alba and Roberto. Alba and Roberto were able to snuff out the attacking threat from Sinclair and Robert operating from the flanks.
Celtic did have a penalty awarded to them when Ter Stegen fell Moussa Dembele inside his eighteen yard box.But the resultant penalty from Dembele was save by Ter Stegen.
The introduction of Rafinha and Iniesta sharpened the incisiveness with which Barcelona laid endless siege on Celtic defensive formation.Iniesta,Messi,Neymar and Suarez were breaching Celtic backline like a hot knife slicing through butter. The way Barcelonia attackers interchange positions as they passed the ball amongst themselves made it extremely difficult for Celtic’s defenders to protect key areas in their defensive formation.
Barcelona tactical formation was very effective due to Brendan Rodgers’ football philosophy. The Celtic’s coach since his days in Liverpool has shown a preference for a possession and attacking football that is similar in features to the Barcelona type. There was no way Celtic could have beaten Barcelona, the very postmasters of that brand of football. Secondly, Brendan Rodgers is not a manager known for setting great score by defensive play.
Brendan Rodgers could have kept the score respectable by choosing a more defensive formation that would have congested the midfield. A 3.5.2 formation would have reduced the score line and perhaps enabled Celtic to score a goal or two of their own. As effective as the high pressing and possession football Barcelona play is, it has its own weakness – its incisiveness is usually blunted when a team sits back in numbers in their own half, it is susceptible to counterattack because it has a way of pulling defenders to join the attack when the opponent sits back.
Let it be stated at once that Barcelona are far and a away the most successful club in world for the last twelve years, but their comprehensive victory over Celtic should not be used as a touchstone of assessing their current form . Celtic, through no fault of anyone, operates on budget that can in no way be compared to that of Barcelona. Consequently, the players in Celtic can by no stretch of imagination be regarded as world-class. As stated earlier on, the disparity in class between Celtic’s players and those of Barcelona are several leagues apart. Celtic thus has practically nothing to be ashamed of by the 7 0 loss to Barcelona. Brendan Rodgers, as he demonstrated at Liverpool , is a highly intelligent and innovative football tactician. It is hope that when the two teams meet again in the reverse fixture, the score line would reflect a result that is consistent with a contest between champions.