Celtic: where to now?

Critics will point to the 89% possession enjoyed by Barcelona and the 23 shots the Catalans had and state that it was merely a blip, a miracle that Celtic were able to beat the European giants on Wednesday night.

It is an easy and lazy stand point to take and is disrespectful to the monumental effort the Celtic team put in to secure a famous victory.

The question now, though, is can the Bhoys build on this incredible win and propel themselves into the latter stages of Champions League, something that haven’t done since 2008?

The huge three points taken against Barcelona is, of course, a massive help and not so much a step in the right direction but more of a big leap towards playing Champions League football in February next year. Can they win the group? It’s a big ask but they are only two points behind Barcelona so one more slip up from the Spanairds and Celtic can sneak in there and finish top.

Celtic exposed the frailties in Barcelona’s back four both at Celtic Park and the Nou Camp. They have papered over the cracks created by the loss of Carles Puyol to long term injury with Javier Mascherano filling in for the Barcelona captain. Whilst not unfamiliar with playing in that position, he was out muscled by teenager Tony Watt for Celtic’s second goal on Wednesday and other teams in the group will fancy their chances. 

It is not inconceivable that Barcelona will drop more points as teams will fancy their chances a little more now but the more likely scenario is Celtic qualifying in second place. They can probably afford to lose to Benfica at the end of the month and still qualify as they play bottom placed Spartak Moscow in the last group stage game. A point at Benfica, however, would pretty much secure qualification.

If they do reach the knockout stages can Celtic really put together a unthinkable European run. Why not? They proved on Wednesday night that even the biggest of underdogs can upset the odds and pull of shock results. It won’t be easy but the momentum and confidence they will take from beating Barcelona could provide the impetus needed to advance to the late stages of this fantastic competition.