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UEFA Champions League: Celtic 2-1 FC Barcelona: Putting Barca's Defeat Into Context

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Barcelona lost last night, which although surprising, is no reason to lose faith in Tito Vilanova and Barca's tried-and-trusted system

Jeff J Mitchell

Barcelona’s defeat at the hands of Celtic yesterday wasn’t entirely unexpected, and perhaps that’s why it has attracted so much attention. Save for a couple of injury-time goals at the Camp Nou, the Blaugrana struggled to take their chances the last time these two sides met, and yesterday was no different. However, is it really necessary to suggest a change of system, or chalk this up to anything other than a bad day at the office? Here are a few points – some context if you will – on Barcelona’s defeat:

  • Despite the defeat, Barcelona kept their place at the top of Group G, and barring a disaster, the Blaugrana will still qualify – most likely as group winners.
  • The defeat was Barcelona’s second of the season which needs to be put into context. Real Madrid for example, has lost four matches so far this season, European Champions Chelsea has also lost four times, Manchester United and Manchester City has lost three. Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan have also lost three times this season, while Bayern Munich – just like Barcelona – has suffered two defeats so far this season. In fact, the only sides who have lost fewer games than the Blaugrana this season are Juventus and Atletico Madrid. If some Culés are ready to lose faith in Tito Vilanova and the Barcelona system after two defeats, then what of these other European clubs?
  • Barcelona started without three of their most important defensive players yesterday – Carles Puyol, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Piqué. It’s naive to suggest that they would have won us the game, but it’s foolish to suggest they wouldn’t have made a difference. For example, substitute the height of Busquets and Piqué in for an ineffective Alex Song and the inexperienced Marc Bartra and bring in the leadership of Carles Puyol for Javier Mascherano, and it’s possible that Wanyama wouldn’t have had such a favourable match-up for the first goal.

There are more points to be made about the match, for example, Barcelona were not at their best and breaking down teams who take that kind of approach has proved to be something of a weakness in recent years, but even then, Celtic had to ride their luck. Messi and Sanchez both hit the woodwork and on another day, who knows what the outcome would have been. Every team has "off-days"; it’s how you react that makes the difference.