All of us have already ran every minute of tonights game through our head. All of us have completely forgotten about the more mundane things that are part and parcel of everyday life and are only trying to make sure that we are either in the ground tonight, in front of the telly, or near a radio.
Celtic are in the Catalon city of Barcelona to face the local lads that has been described by many as the most one sided fixture since we lined up against startstruck Suduva at Celtic park on the start of the Seville run, and yet Barcelona aren’t that bad. This could be trickier than we think. They have one or two promising midfielders, and a couple of decent forwards who could make life uncomfortable for Celtic in their ramshackle old arena.
Ach, who am I kidding. They are the team of the moment. A high tempo passing side who sap the will to fight from their opponents before ruthlessly putting them to the sword. A footballing machine, oiled and maintained to perfection.
Hang on though, can I tell you about the Glasgow Celtic?
“Its a form of socialism, ” said Bill Shankly once of the way that Jock Stein had moulded his 1967 squad into winners, and thats what Neil Lennon has done with his charges. A case of something being greater than the sum of its parts. These guys will fight for each other, they will fight for the club, and they will fight for the supporters. And they can play a bit themselves.
Tonight there is a chance for the current players to join a long, long list of heroes in the clubs illustrious history. Billy McNeill against Vojvodina, Gemmell against Inter, Johnstone against anyone, . A performance like the ones against Leeds, against Real Madrid at home, taking five off Sporting Lisbon, coming from two down against Cologne, that night against Juventus-actually two nights against Juventus, a previous night in the Camp nou when David Marshall and John Kennedy marked their short Celtic careers with legendary performances. I could go on-Larssons goal against Boavista when we’d all but given up, Hartson at Anfield.
Its time to add to that list, time for the club to stop looking backwards through the rear view mirror and make its mark again. The Moscow win could be the defining moment, the start of a new chapter in history.
There is no reason why Celtic tonight cannot do us all proud. Sure you can look at the Barcelona side, and they’ve all been there, done that and might even do it again. But we have a squad of players who have proved that they can rise to the occasion.
Georgios Samaras at full pelt racing towards a shaky defence? Kris Commons working his socks off to create a sniff of a chance for the poacher Gary Hooper? Scott Brown, Charlie Mulgrew, Joe Ledley Vic Wanyama giving the famous Barca midfield no time to get into their stride. Izzy and Matthews taking the ball and keeping it? Taking the pressure off by running forty yards and laying it safe?
Above all, these guys will give everything. Lennon will be confident in that. If they all do what they are good at, then there is a damn good chance we can come away with something, and at the very least they will know they’ve been in a battle.
Still going with a 1-0 win , with Joe Ledley heading a winner with about fifteen minutes left. From a Mulgrew corner or free kick.
Meanwhile, the Barca manager reckons we are a dangerous side, good on the counter, one or two of their players are doing the lip service respect thing. Tito Vilanova went on
“They are good in the air and so I am really worried about that (he saw sammys goal against Moscow) , and they tied against Benfica and beat Spartak (he’s checked the results) which was a good thing for them”
He hasn’t paid us any attention whatsoever. “At the beginning people (meaning him) did not take into account the possibility of Celtic going through” He might just get a wee surprise tonight….
Lennons war cry?
“Celtic are one of the biggest clubs in the world with a history in this competition and we have a responsibility to do justice to that”
Thats fighting talk, that is.
Elsewhere, Celtic share holders are to demand a break with joint sponsorship deals, which seem to have carried on with the new club using Ibrox as a base, and the name of the old club as they continue to pretend they can get away with dumping millions of pounds worth of debt. Surprised it has taken so long really, as a club that doesn’t pay its bills, ignores sporting integrity and has a rabid support who send death threats to just about anyone who upsets them, isn’t particularly something you’d want to be associated with in the corporate world. The myth of solo sponsorship failing has only been peddled since the old Rangers went alone with their MacEwens Lager deal, which sank the brand into virtual obscurity. Helped no doubt by a few Celts who refused to drink it, but the beer wasn’t up to much anyway.
Interestingly, as a side note, Lance Armstrong has been stripped of everything he ever achieved since 1998. Its because he cheated, and even his insurance company want a few million quid back. Rangers “peepil” take note.
Yesterday, the teaser was worded wrongly, but Morto saw through it, and correctly claimed that Pavel Nedved was outplayed and nutmegged by his hero Lubomir Moravcik, the man who was a cheap alternative to john Spencer, according to Hugh Keevins at the time.
Today, think about this. we have met Barcelona eight times in european competition. After this year, this will make them our most frequent opponents. Especially if they make it to the final as well. Who is next on the list?