Lionel Messi warns Barcelona to be ready for a fight with Celtic
THE Barca superstar knows the dangers the Scottish champions pose ahead of the Champions League clash next month.
LIONEL Messi has warned his Barcelona team-mates to be wary of a Celtic squad hungry for success now they’re back in the big time.
The Argentine superstar has come to know the Scottish champions well in recent seasons after the clubs were drawn together again in the Champions League.
Celtic and Barcelona have met 10 times in Europe in the last 12 years and will go head-to-head once more when they kick off this season’s group stage at the Nou Camp on September 13.
By coincidence, it was the scene of Celtic’s last appearance in the group stage, a 6-1 trouncing in December 2013 in Neil Lennon’s last season in charge.
Celtic have been revitalised under new boss Brendan Rodgers and Messi is wary of the dangers they pose his Spanish champions.
He said: “Celtic are a team we have got to know well in Europe and after seasons without Champions League football they will have a point to prove.
“Their team is very different to the ones that we have played in the past. A lot of players have left and they have many new ones, but what won’t have changed is their spirit and desire.
“It’s always important in the Champions League to win the first game, especially if you want to win the group. Celtic will arrive with no pressure, but we know from previous experience that they will fight hard and I don’t expect an easy game.”
Messi last faced Celtic at this level in November 2012 when his injury time strike at Parkhead proved little more than a consolation on a fabled night as Lennon’s side triumphed 2-1, with goals from Victor Wanyama and Tony Watt.
He will be back at one of his favourite grounds in world football on November 23 and can’t wait to face the challenge.
He added: “Their fans are going to fill the stadium with noise. We know that and it is a good thing for the competition that Celtic are back.
“The Barcelona players who have faced Celtic in the past have a lot of respect for the team and their fans. A lot of mutual respect has been built up after our games.
“I understand that there will be lots of talk about the Barcelona and Manchester City games, but we will treat every game the same.
“No game in the Champions League is easy and every game you play is the chance to win three points. That is all we will be focused on.”