Barca believe Celtic Park atmosphere is unbeatable
By: Kenny McKay on 07 Dec, 2013 19:41
HAVING scored 12 goals in their last two games, Celtic will head to Barcelona full of confidence. Regardless of the fact that Celtic’s European campaign is drawing to an end for this season, facing the Catalan giants will still provide Neil Lennon’s side with the toughest of tests.
Last season the Hoops were just seconds away from gaining a well-deserved draw in the Camp Nou before Jordi Albi grabbed a last-minute winner.
It will take another great Celtic performance on Wednesday night to have any chance of getting something from the game, but that’s exactly what Neil Lennon’s side intend to do.
One man who has witnessed Barcelona’s success at close quarters over the past decade, and who will take a special interest in the visit of the Scottish champions to Catalonia this week is Graham Hunter.
The Scottish journalist and author has been based in Barcelona for the past few years, and he say that, while Barca might have set a benchmark for all other clubs to try and reach on the field, there is a belief within the Catalan club that, if they could bottle up the atmosphere of Celtic Park and take it back to the Camp Nou, they would be unbeatable.
Hunter was back in Scotland last week to promote his new book, Spain: The Inside Story of La Roja’s Historic Treble, and he took time out to speak to Celtic TV ahead of this Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League clash between Celtic and Barcelona.
He said: “It´s not condescending or patronising to say that every time they play against Celtic home or away, Barcelona come away feeling completely charged, asking about what it would be like if they had a support like that to play in front of home or away, because it is alien to their culture. Some of the players do say things like ‘We’d be unbeatable´.
“The first article I ever wrote in Spanish for a newspaper in Spain was called ‘Watch out for Celtic’. So that Celtic performance last season fits into a pattern that you can identify every time Barcelona or Spain have lost in unusual circumstances in the last eight years or so.”
And Hunter also had praise for the Celtic manager, who has steered the club to the group stages of the UEFA Champions League for two consecutive seasons, and last year saw his side beat Barcelona 2-1 at Celtic Park.
“I’m immensely impressed by him and fond of him,” Hunter said. “It’s not very often that I say I wish I was working in the Scottish Premiership but he would be a reason to do so.
“I appreciate his competitive nature and how he views football. He’s bright and articulate and I particularly like the way he has spoken about some of the things he has been forced to deal with in his own personal life. He’s talked often about depression and how he copes with that and I think that is a helpful thing.”
Hunter, a self-confessed Aberdeen fan, also believes that Celtic’s success in Europe, along with the youth team´s participation in the NextGen Series and this season’s UEFA Youth League, could have longer-term benefits for the Scottish national team.
“Lennoxtown is a well-run resource where they are using the right criteria to develop kids,” he said.
“I watched Celtic in the NexGen and they performed very well in that competition. I’ve spoken to Chris McCart, Stevie Frail and John Kennedy and they have the right enthusiasm for what they want to do.
“Celtic’s development has the right goals and the right mentality. All in all, Celtic are in a potentially positive dynamic and if that produces a spine or a group of good player then that’s to our great benefit as Scots.”
Graham Hunter’s new book, Spain: The Inside Story of La Roja’s Historic Treble (BackPage Press) is on sale now. http://www.backpagepress.co.uk/
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