Barcelona v Celtic – Aviva Stadium, Dublin at 18:00 live on Sky Sports 1
Barcelona kick-off their pre-season with their debut in this years International Champions Cup against Scottish champions Celtic at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday evening.
The Blaugrana have been training at England’s St. George Park over the past few days as they begin their preparations for the new La Liga season where they will be aiming to win their third title in a row. They also won their 28th Copa del Rey but were disappointingly knocked out of the Champions League in the quarter finals to fellow Spaniard’s Atletico Madrid.
Luis Enrique has a;already added to his squad over the Summer with the signings of defenders Samuel Umtiti and Lucas Digne along with midfielders Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez who was brought back from Villarreal after he was sold by Barca just last season.
With this being their first friendly of the Summer however, Barcelona still have a lot of players on holiday after the European Championships and Copa America including new signings Umtiti, Digne and Gomes. Other big names still yet to join up with the squad include Jordi Alba, Ivan Rakitic, Arda Turan, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique. Neymar and Rafinha are also absent due to representing host nation Brazil at the Olympics.
Good news for the fans though is that Messi and Suarez travel to Dublin and are available for selection.
Celtic’s pre-season preparations are well underway having already played 5 friendlies, winning 3, drawing 2, including a 1-1 draw with Premier League champions Leicester in their first ICC 2016 match. The Hoops’ competitive campaign is also underway, having played 3 Champions League qualifying matches.
Brendan Rodgers’ side battled past Gibraltan part-timers Lincoln Red Imps, losing 1-0 in the away leg, before winning 3-0 at Celtic Park. Last time out they faced Astana in the next round of the UCL and drew 1-1 away from home in the first leg, with the second leg to be played on Wednesday.
With little at stake this Saturday in Dublin and with a job still to do at Celtic Park on Wednesday, Rodgers is likely to approach this friendly with caution and rest some players. Barcelona won’t be at full strength either but the Catalan’s quality runs deep and I expect them to win this one. They offer some value on the Asian Handicap betting market -1.5 at 1.83.
There is also some value on the goals market. Although friendlies can often be played at a slow tempo, disjointed due to a lot of changes, even Barcelona’s fringe players can inject some pace and quality into this one so I’m expecting goals.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 3 goals at 1.83 at Barcelona -1.5 at 1.83
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