Tito Vilanova: Celtic will be dangerous on the break
By: Laura Brannan in Barcelona on 22 Oct, 2012 17:43
HE may be in charge of, arguably, the greatest team in the world at the moment, and enjoying maximum points in the UEFA Champions League group stages so far, but Barcelona manager, Tito Vilanova, is expecting a tough test from Celtic on Tuesday night.
The Hoops are in Catalonia for the third match of the tournament, and with both sides undefeated so far, it is shaping up to be a mouth-watering encounter.
Vilanova, who took over from Pep Guardiola in the summer, was particularly impressed with Celtic´s dramatic 3-2 win against Spartak Moscow at the start of October, and he knows he will face a determined side tomorrow.
"We know Celtic are dangerous, they have very fast people who can counter attack," he said at the pre-match press conference in the Camp Nou.
"The Celtic game tomorrow will be a champions match and we have to win these matches. Celtic won against Spartak and it was difficult for us to win here.
"They are a good team, they are dangerous on the counter-attack because they are so quick. I´m worried about Celtic being very fast up front and they proved it against Spartak. They go on the break and they are really good with high balls, and crossing the ball. I´m really worried about that."
With Barcelona leading the group with six points, and Celtic closely following on four, Vilanova knows better than to write off Neil Lennon´s side. And while a win for Barcelona would edge them to within touching distance of qualification to the next round, no one at the club is getting carried away.
"There are four games left and anything can happen. We will then see which two teams go through," Vilanova continued. "No team has qualified so far so these games are very complicated.
"Home games are very important, and we have to secure the points at home. Of course, if we win tomorrow it would be a very important step towards qualifying. It would pave our wave, so to speak.
"But my main worry is recovering my players from the game at the weekend when we had to play with 10 players and got back home at five o´clock in the morning.
"Celtic got a draw with Benfica at home and a win in Moscow against Spartak so they are doing things well. Maybe in the beginning, when people saw the group they didn’t take into account the possibility of Celtic going through. But with these four points and two more games at home they have the chance, of course."
Both sides go into the European tie having scored five goals in their respective league matches at the weekend. But as the Hoops brushed aside St Mirren with a comfortable 5-0 victory, Barcelona faced a tougher test against Deportivo La Coruna, recording a remarkable 5-4 win.
Despite conceding four goals, however, which included some defensive mistakes, Vilanova is focusing on the positives, which happen to include a Lionel Messi hat-trick.
"If we analyse the goals we conceded the other day they are under very special circumstances," the manager explained. "They don’t have anything to do with the general behaviour of the team.
"But we work in order to concede fewer goals and score more goals and if we keep that difference until the end there will be no problem. We have never seen a player like Messi - he has nothing to prove, he has proven everything already. I say enjoy him as long as we can."
Meanwhile, Pedro also spoke about the test his side will face, and pinpointed the same danger areas as his manager.
"We know Celtic will be a very complicated rival," he said. "They will wait for us at the back and they will go on the break very fast.
"It is a very important game. We will be playing in front of our own fans and it would be great to get all three points. We are trying to work really hard on this match."