By Ewan McQueen

Barcelona v Celtic. The Spanish league leaders v the Scottish league leaders.

This game sounds a complete mis-match on paper, but then a game of football was never won on a bit of paper.

The odds are certainly stacked against Neil Lennon’s men from getting anything from their trip to the Camp Nou tonight, but the Celtic boss insists his players are not just in Barcelona for “a holiday.”

Both teams have made unbeaten starts to their Champions League campaigns with Barcelona starting with a 3-2 home victory against Spartak Moscow, before winning 2-0 away to Benfica.

Meanwhile Celtic drew 0-0 at home to Benfica on Matchday one before they secured a first Champions League away victory in their history three weeks ago against Spartak Moscow, winning 3-2 in the Russian capital.

Both teams sit top of their domestic leagues with Barcelona remaining unbeaten in La Liga after eight games, whilst Celtic have only been beaten once in the SPL.

Celtic can take heart from the fact that they may be playing a significantly weakened Barcelona defence who will be missing Carlos Puyol, Daniel Alves, Gerard Pique and Eric Abidal through injury.

This will mean a makeshift centre-back pairing in the shape of Javier Mascherano and Alex Song who conceded four goals together against Deportivo at the weekend. Luckily for the pair of them, Messi and co scored five.

Celtic also scored five at the weekend against St Mirren and have star striker Gary Hooper in top form who has scored four goals in his last five games.

Attacking wise though, Barcelona are still at full strength with the world’s best player (sorry Cristiano Ronaldo), Lionel  Messi continuing to mesmerise audiences the world over with his genius style of play.

Add in the creativity of Cesc Fabregas, Xavi and Andres Iniesta and you can see clearly that Celtic will have a job on their hands stopping this Barcelona team from scoring.

You have to suspect Celtic will be looking to hit the home side on the counter attack if they are to have any chance of getting anything from the game. They will look to the pace and creativity of Georgios Samaras and Kris Commons to supply the ammunition for Hooper.

Somewhat surprisingly, Celtic have a very good record against Barcelona over the last decade. Despite losing to them in the knockout stages of the Champions League in 2008, they put up a spirited fight losing 3-2 at home, before succumbing 1-0 in the Camp Nou.

Add in a 1-1 draw away to them in 2004 in the Champions League plus they also beat them in the Uefa Cup earlier in the year.

However, this is eight years on and Barcelona are a far stronger team even with their mounting injury problems in defence. Players such as Messi, Iniesta and Xavi are all at the top of their game and since 2004 they have won three Champions League titles.

Celtic’s fine unbeaten start to their Champions League campaign faces its toughest test yet and if they record even a point, it will go down as one of the finest results in the clubs history.

The Dream’s prediction: Barcelona 3-1 Celtic

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