Former Barca man Bartra picks out Celtic as highlight of Europa League group

By Euan Davidson

September 10, 2021

Former Barca and current Real Betis defender Marc Bartra has picked out Celtic as stern competition in the Europa League.

Primarily because he believes Celtic are a Champions League club.

Bartra, who played in defence for Barca in Celtic’s famous 2-1 win back in 2012 [BBC], is also determined to reach the Europa League final. With the 2022 showpiece set to be hosted by Sevilla’s Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium, there’s extra motivation for Real Betis.

To win the competition in their rivals’ backyard would surely be extra sweet for the Andalusians.

First though, they have to negotiate Celtic on Thursday night. Ahead of the game, Bartra said [via Daily Record]:

“It is a very nice group for us in the Europa League, but at the same time very demanding. We are playing against teams such as Celtic for example, who are used to playing in the Champions League and are one of the great teams in their league.

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“But we think Betis will have a big say in this group and the Europa League is a big aim of ours this season.

“My focus in the game against Granada on Monday night and then we turn our attention to Celtic.”

Betis man Bartra: Celtic are used to playing in the Champions League

Ah, but were it true that Celtic were used to playing in the Champions League, Mr. Bartra. The Bhoys haven’t been in the group stage of Europe’s top competition since 17-18 [UEFA].

For this current crop of players, there isn’t a great deal of Champions League experience. Fans are optimistic about what Ange Postecoglou can do in the future, but for now our expectations are for Celtic to perform well in the Europa League.

Betis offer a great benchmark in terms of where Celtic are. With some nifty additions in the summer, and the resurgence of players who under-performed last season, there’s hope that the Hoops can make more of a dent in the Europa League this time round.

Photo by Jose Luis Conteras/DAX Images/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Andalusians, despite having some great talents, are labouring at the start of their 21-22 campaign. Not that it’s bothering their manager, Manuel Pellegrini, too much.

Still, some recognition around Europe for Celtic’s history in top competitions is never a bad thing. Bartra knows all too well what a packed and raucous Paradise can do on big European nights. When Betis come to Glasgow in December [UEFA], the Spanish defender will be ready for that.

In other news: Celtic CEO McKay can push on with key promise after Strachan resolution