Gordon Strachan’s men will face F.C. Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 – a formidable task under any circumstances but even more so in light of Celtic’s recent run of mediocre form and defensive injuries.
Strachan himself told the BBC that beating Barca was a “realistic” goal that “can be done.” While I don’t doubt it can be done, calling it realistic sounds a bit, er, optimistic. But in Strachan’s defence, it would not be unprecedented. In 2004, the Bhoys knocked Barcelona out of the UEFA Cup, beating the Catalans 1-0 at Celtic Park and managing a scoreless draw in the return leg at Camp Nou. And defensive help may be on the way soon: the Hoops are said to be closing on a deal for Sevilla right-back Andreas Hinkel and the Daily Record is reporting Strachan may sign Brazil international Dyego Rocha Coelho to a three-year deal.
Do Celtic stand a chance – or can they only hope to avoid embarrassment? The first leg will be played at Celtic Park on February 20, with the return at Camp Nou a fortnight later.