The Champions League group stage returned on Tuesday night with a buoyant Celtic travelling to Camp Nou.

The Hoops might have been expecting a tough evening but the scale of their ordeal was worse than imaginable with Barcelona running out emphatic 7-0 winners.

What revelations can be taken from such a one-sided affair looking ahead to the rest of the group fixtures?

A yardstick for both teams

Pep Guardiola may have made a perfect start to his Manchester City career but it is clearly his former employers who look like the team to beat in the group after a breathtaking display.

The Premier League side will have to progress rapidly to have any chance of preventing them from topping the pool.

Celtic meanwhile have been away from the Champions League for two years and it showed. The absence of their rivals Rangers domestically has seen them prudently rest on their laurels but the gulf between them and Europe’s top teams has widened significantly.

Investment will be needed to address it. Never before have they been so painfully overpowered by one of the continental elite

Brendan’s blunder

Despite masterminding a resounding Old Firm victory at the weekend, it was always going to take a miracle for Brendan Rodgers to pull off a result here.

However, his decision to switch formations looks like an error in hindsight. Opting to go with a back five, in an attempt to keep things tight and stifle Barca’s superstars, backfired.

The three centre-backs seemed uncomfortable and unable to organise themselves, while Cristian Gamboa and Kieran Tierney at full-back found themselves occupied by their onrushing opposite numbers, rather than helping shackle Lionel Messi and co.

An alternative strategy will be needed for the return fixture and indeed to deal with City when the time comes.

Barca have options

It’s a long time since Jose Mourinho famously rhymed off the Barcelona team sheet before he was due to go up against them, but the truth is that the most-successful team on the continent in the last decade have had a largely predictable line-up until now.

Recent recruitment has given Luis Enrique a wealth of top quality choice.

Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta were given a half each. The sight too, of Arda Turan, so effective during Neymar’s Olympic absence, warming the bench alongside big-money stars like Paco Alcacer and experienced men like Javier Mascherano shows their true strength in depth.

Dembele has a lot to learn

It is often a thankless task for the lone striker in a team sent out to defend at Cemp Nou. Touches of the ball and opportunities to make an impression are rare.

Young Moussa Dembele though, fresh from a perfect hat-trick in the derby, looked lost.

If his confidence looked gone before the penalty miss it was never coming back after it. He seemed unable to trouble the centre-backs with any movement and lacked the experience to offer any real outlet for his suffocated team.

The game was a huge step up for him but his team-mate, Scott Sinclair for example, fared better.

Luis Enrique’s men gathering momentum

Barcelona were fresh form a surprise defeat to Alaves at the weekend, where a rotated side lost at home. Celtic suffered the inevitable backlash.

The Catalans though, had not been at their best before Tuesday by any means and laboured to a 1-0 win against Athletic Bilbao in their previous La Liga fixture.

With Neymar now back from his Olympics and a morale-boosting Champions League win under their belt, Enrique’s charges appear a lot more ominous.


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