Following Celtic's victory - Just how difficult is it to beat Barcelona?

 

Last night saw an injury-ravaged Celtic side emerge victorious over arguably the best club side on the planet. In terms of the club's rich history, many are lauding Neil Lennon's achievement as second only to the European Cup victory of 1967, but in the cold light of day, when the euphoria has subsided, the question will be posed: Just how difficult are Barcelona to beat?

Barcelona's status as one of the world's elite footballing sides has been long established, but it is only since 2008 that the Catalans have commanded an air of invincibility. The beginning of this period of imperious form coincides with the appointment of Pep Guardiola as head coach, and with that, the implementation of the tika-taka style of aesthetically-pleasing football for which they are now known.

Guardiola, fresh off the back of an impressive stint as coach of FC Barcelona B, raised eyebrows with his decision to ship the attacking duo of Deco and Ronaldinho out of the club. His brand of tiki-taka football was to revolve around the seemingly telepathic understanding between midfield schemers Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, both products of the prestigious Barcelona youth academy - La Masia.

The emphasis based on recruitment from La Masia, also responsible for the likes of Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas and Lionel Messi, coupled with Guardiola's tactical discipline, brought immediate success in the form of a first league title in three seasons and a third European Cup.

Two more league titles, two Copa del Rey wins and another Champions League victory later, this Barca team has well and truly established itself as one of the greatest club sides of all time, thereby making Celtic's victory all the more impressive.

Last night's result marks the first time Barcelona have been beaten in the Champions League group stages since a shock home defeat to Rubin Kazan in October 2009, thus ending an unbeaten run of 18 fixtures.

As well as winning the title in 2009 and 2011, they also reached the semi-final stage in 2010 and 2012, thus illustrating their recent near invincibility in the competition.

Despite said form, Barcelona have often struggled when playing in Britain, with the exception of the 2011 Champions League final at Wembley, not managing a victory on this isle since a 2-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in February 2006.

Gleeful Celtic fans will also point to the fact Barcelona have proven unbeatable in the Spanish league this season, leading the chasing pack on 18 points, and in doing so have equalled the record points tally after ten games in La Liga set by arch rivals Real Madrid in 1997.

Clearly, beating Barcelona is no mean feat, and Neil Lennon deserves all the plaudits that will inevitably come his way in the coming days. Although Barca have often fallen short on British shores, last night's events will go down in history as one of Scottish football's all-time greatest achievements.       

Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home