HERE’S a question: Would Celtic rather take the scalp of star-studded Barcelona or see off Kazaks Astana?
It’s an easy one to answer – and anyway the Scottish champions have beaten Barca more than once before.
The sides meet in the International Champions Cup in Dublin and for Celtic it’s a big distraction from the real deal of the Champions League.
Last week Celtic did well to hold English champs Leicester ahead of their marathon trip to Astana and having secured a 1-1 draw all eyes must be on the return.
Apart from a fat cheque there is little to be gained from facing Barca even if Lionel Messi reckons it will be perfect preparation for Celtic’s tie on Wednesday.
Messi was fulsome in praise of the Celtic Park atmosphere when he last played there and wants to face them again in the Champions League – but what striker wouldn’t.
Barca won’t be at full strength but Messi, Luis Suarez, Arda Turan and Javier Mascherano will be involved as will new signings Lucas Digne and Samuel Umtiti. Messi and Suarez are two who cut their holidays short to join up at Barca’s training base in the Midlands and that’s a sign of their commitment.
Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers would do well to wrap all his defenders in cotton wool and Kolo Toure has been left at home as he builds up match fitness ahead of a possible run-out against the Kazaks.
Barca are short-priced favourites but 1-3 at Ladbrokes will tempt big hitters and last time they met in 2013 they ran out 6-1 winners as Neymar ran riot. Celtic,who are 11-1 at Paddy Power, are relieved to see the Brazilian is absent on Olympics duty.
It’s worth remembering this is more a friendly than a cup clash and Barca’s first warm-up game but they are capable of running out convincing winners and I”m on them minus one at 5-6 with Ladbrokes.
If you want a Celtic scorer check line-up before betting but Leigh Griffiths is the obvious choice at 8-1.
Celtic will be backed by their huge Dublin fanbase and could net. To do so they are 4-5 at betfair.
Recommended Bet – check starting line-ups and if Messi and Suarez start take them both to score and Barca -1.
Kick-off – 6.30pm. Dublin.
Update: Messi and Suarez start as does Efe Ambrose in Celtic defence.
2pts Barcelona –
(10-11, Paddy Power)