• Celtic v Barcelona, Champions League

Brown: Celtic will attack Barcelona

ESPN staff
November 7, 2012 « Dodson first up for Johnson | Chartbeat test »
Georgios Samaras is expected to return for Celtic to face Barcelona © Getty Images
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Celtic captain Scott Brown has vowed his team will adopt a more attacking approach when they host Barcelona in Wednesday's Champions League Group G clash at Parkhead.

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The Scottish champions came agonisingly close to claiming a famous draw at the Camp Nou a fortnight ago, only for Jordi Alba's stoppage-time winner to beat the Hoops 2-1.

Despite almost coming away from the home of the Spanish giants with a point, Celtic were criticised in some quarters for their stifling defensive game plan, most notably by former Barca player Bernd Schuster.

Brown defended his team's tactical approach in Catalonia, but said that they would look to attack more now it is their turn to play host.

"We are going to have to go out and create a few more chances," he said. "We will hopefully attack a little bit more. It was hard at the Nou Camp, it is a huge pitch and they had a lot of possession.

"But it's hard when you play against teams who press you so high up the park. They do that to most teams in Spain and win three, four and five-nil week in, week out, so it shows we got our tactics spot on.

"We defended really well as a group and Fraser [Forster] was magnificent and we are going to have to do that again. But we are going to have to get more of the ball and try to keep it for longer periods.

"Losing in the last minute is always going to be hard, but that shows you how dangerous Barcelona can be. We have to stay focused the whole game."

Brown has been passed fit to feature against the 2011 European champions after recovering from a hip problem that has been with him for much of the season, but the Scotland midfielder now believes he is over the worst of it.

"I am starting to feel a lot better," he said. "I have had a lot of rest and my body is slowly getting better and better. I have managed to play three games in a row and I am feeling the benefits.

"So hopefully I am over the worst of it. You can never tell what is around the corner but my body is feeling good just now and if I can keep training day in, day out, playing two or three games a week, I am happy with that."

Celtic will be without left-back Emilio Izaguirre, who has been ruled out for six weeks with a hamstring injury suffered during the 2-2 draw against Dundee United at Tannadice on Sunday.

Thomas Rogne is out for two weeks with a calf injury sustained in the same game. Winger James Forrest (hamstring) and strikers Gary Hooper (hamstring), Lassad (groin) and Georgios Samaras (ankle) missed the trip to Tayside, but the latter - who scored at the Camp Nou - could feature.

Celtic player to watch: Neil Lennon will be looking for the performance of a lifetime from skipper Brown. With attacking options from midfield limited by Celtic's injury list, the captain will need to push on to support the front line alongside his enforcer duties in the centre of the park - no mean feat against such illustrious opposition.

Barcelona player to watch: Who else but Leo. Messi scored twice to rescue Barca on their last visit to Parkhead in 2008 having twice trailed before winning 3-2. The Argentine maestro displayed his golden shoe to the fans ahead of their 3-1 win against Celta Vigo at the weekend, but endured a frustrating evening himself, punching a Celta player in the back. Is fatherhood, or the departure of Pep Guardiola, starting to take its toll?

Betting: The romantics would love a home win a day on from Celtic's 125th anniversary, but there's no taller order than beating Barcelona, as the Scottish champions found out the hard way last time out. A 3-1 win for the Catalan giants is available at 9/1 with bet365.

Prediction: 1-3

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