“There was good pressure, intensity and we played well,” says the manager after the match against Celtic FC
Zubizarreta: “We are growing”
Andoni Zubizarreta analysed Barça’s victory over Celtic: “We’re growing in our play. We’re missing players like Messi and Valdés, but despite that the team have the same intention of dominating when they play.” When asked about possible rivals in the next round of the competition, he said he had no preference. “It’s a tie that’s a bit tricky because the draw is in December but you don’t play until February. A lot can happen in that time.”
Tata Martino told the gathered journalists in the Richard Maxenchs press room that his team played one of the best matches of the season this evening. “It was one of the most complete games we’ve played. There was good pressure, intensity and we played well.” In addition, the manager said that he’s satisfied because the team played well “throughout the 90 minutes of play.”
Martino then praised his Brazilian forward, Neymar Jr. “He needed a couple of minutes to adapt from his position on the wing to the center. The goal gave him confidence and from there he showed his repertoire.” The manager added that “I’m amazed at his level of commitment to the team, it’s strange in players that are as good as him.”
He also highlighted Alexis’ performance. “He was one of the best this evening. He’s shown that you don’t have to score to play well.” And he also had words for Sergi Roberto: “He’s played very well in two games and I think that he can be even more decisive. My view of him has nothing to do with how many minutes he gets on the pitch.”
When asked Barça’s possible rivals in the next round of the competition, Martino said that he didn’t have any preferences. “There will be time to get to know our rival.”
The players react to their victory over Celtic on their Twitter and Instagram accounts
Bayer Leverkusen, Galatasaray, Olympiakos, Manchester City, Schalke 04, Arsenal and Zenit St. Petersburg are the teams FC Barcelona could face in the next round
With the top spot of Group H secured, Barça know which teams they could possibly face in the next round of the competition. The draw for the Round of 16 will be held next Monday. Here are Barça’s possible rivals:
Runner up in Group A, behind Manchester United and ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Sociedad. They won ten points and were only defeated by the English team.
Without a doubt, one of the big surprises of the tournament. Everyone expected a relatively placid road to qualification for Madrid and Juventus in Group B, but in the last match, the Turkish team eliminated the Italians.
The Greek team, managed by former Madrid player Míchel, secured the second spot of Group C thanks to two goals from Saviola in the last match of the group stage. The group was won by PSG and Benfica and Anderlecht were eliminated.
Trailing Bayern Munich throughout the group stage, the team managed by Manuel Pellegrini fought back from a 2-0 deficit at the Allianz Arena in the last match of the group stage, but they finished just a goal shy of claiming the top spot. They are one of the more dangerous rivals Barça could face.
Runner up of Group E after they defeated Basel (2-0), who were second in the group coming into the last match of the group stage. Chelsea won the group and Steaua Bucharest finished last.
The toughest group of the competition concluded with a three-way tie on 12 points. A goal from Grosskreutz on 87 minutes gave Borussia Dortmund the win and the top spot. Arsenal, who led the group coming into their match against Napoli, dropped to second when they lost 2-0 to the Italians.
Zenit St. Petersburg
The Russian team qualified for the Round of 16 with one win from six matches. With 6 points, they bested Porto and Austria Vienna (both with 5 points), Atlético Madrid won the group (16 points).
Barça have secured top spot in the group thanks to goals from Piqué, Pedro, Neymar (3) and Tello
The Brazilian was the hero of the night with an awe-inspiring display
Barça only needed a point to clinch top place in their Champions League group, but did much more than against a Celtic side that was only playing for pride but was instead played off the park by an intense, ambitious display from the Catalans. After going into an early 1-0 lead and with the win already as good as settled by half-time, Barça were able to play for the crowd and regain some lost confidence, with hat-trick hero Neymar on stunning form.
Straight down to work
It was two minutes before Celtic had even touched the ball at the Camp Nou. Barça were passing it around with ease, and were soon creating problem after problem for Forster to deal with. And that was how things would stay for most of the ninety minutes, as has been the case so often in the past against the Scottish champions, who as usual opted for a highly defensive game-plan. But this time, Barça broke the deadlock early doors. After just six minutes, an opportunist Piqué pounced on the rebound after Alexis had found himself one-on-one on the keeper. 1-0.
Barça in harmony
Barça had all the possession, and even though they were losing, Celtic preferred to keep it tight at the back and speculate with the occasional counter-attack or dead-ball situation. All this served to do was create a Barça onslaught on their area, although the home side were lacking the speed and definition to turn their dominance into further goals.
Busquets was outstanding, Sergi Roberto and Xavi were feeding balls from all angles, and Alexis, Neymar and Pedro were all getting involved with spectacular bicycle kicks and all the works. The worrying thing, however, is that it wasn’t until the 39th minute that they finally found the net a second time, with Neymar starting the move and Pedro finishing it off.
Moments later came the play of the match. Some wonderful first touch football among the midfielders ended with the ball reaching Alexis, who subtly chipped it through to Montoya. The defender could have shot himself, but instead laid on a perfect assist for Neymar. There had only really been one team on the pitch in a first half that ended 3-0.
The Neymar Show
Neymar’s first ever goal in the Champions league was just the boost he needed. In the second half, he scored another peach of a goal on the back of yet another terrific combination move. For the rest of the game, Barça restrained themselves from showboating too much, knowing that this has cost them dearly in the past and that one of the most important aspects that they need to improve is holding onto leads.
But there was little chance of tonight’s lead slipping away. On a freezing evening, the Camp Nou was soon chanting the name of Neymar as he went on to complete his first hat-trick in a Barça shirt. It was yet another move initiated by a flash of genius from a defender, followed by a delightful one-two to make it 5-0. A rare Barça attempt at a long ball, by Mascherano, almost led to Neymar getting his fourth of the night, but Pedro was caught offside and the move was invalidated.
See you in February!
Tello marked his return to the team by grabbing the sixth and final goal of the night with a shot that rebounded off a defender and left Forster with no chance. But it was thanks to the Celtic keeper that Neymar failed to add any more goals to his account. As the game drew to a close, we finally started seeing a bit more life in Celtic, with Samaras heading home a consolation goal and coming close to adding a couple more. But by this stage, Barça’s biggest heroes of the night, Busquets and Neymar, were already resting on the bench. The Camp Nou gave both the ovation they deserved and was able to celebrate qualification for the last sixteen as group leaders. The Champions League returns in February, and on Monday, Barça will be finding what team they’ll be playing.
The forward published a video on social media showing him doing ball drills
Leo Messi continues to recover from the muscular injury that he picked up on November 10 away to Betis. This Wednesday, the Argentinian published a video on social media of him conducting ball drills.
Messi is supervised by doctor Daniel Martínez and kinesiologist Luis García, members of Argentina’s medical team. It’s worth noting that the forward left for Argentina on November 29 to continue his recovery.