Celtic's Champions League hopes boosted by Mascherano injury

Barcelona’s loss could be the Bhoys gain at Parkhead

Neil Lennon would be forgiven if the faintest hint of a smile played across his lips following the news that Barcelona will be without Javier Mascherano for their Champions League tie with Celtic next week.

The 29-year-old has been ruled out of the Parkhead clash after picking up a hamstring injury during Barca’s 4-1 victory over Real Sociedad in La Liga this week.

A statement from the Catalan club confirmed that Mascherano would be out for anywhere between ten and 15 days, leaving coach Gerardo Martino with something of a defensive headache.

Going into this key home clash with Celtic, a team that beat Barcelona in Europe last term, the Spanish giants will be without Jordi Alba and long-term absentee Carlos Puyol.

Mascherano had been expected to feature in defence for the La Liga club, but with those plans now in tatters the team could turn to one of either Martin Montoya or Bartra to partner Gerard Pique.

Both have had limited playing time so far this term, while Sergio Busquets represents another potential makeshift defensive option for Martino.

It all makes for positive news north of the border, as Celtic look to spring a surprise in front of their home fans.

The Hoops will need to be at their sharpest though, with the team previously coming under fire from Ruud Gullit after failing to score against AC Milan in their 2-0 defeat in the opening round of Champions League group games.

Speaking to the BBC, the Dutchman hit out at a lack of quality with the Glasgow club’s squad, singling out their play in the final third of the pitch for particular criticism.

On that occasion Celtic registered ten attempts on goal, if they can make the most of just one come next week, Neil Lennon could actually have something proper to smile about.

image: © jeroen_bennink

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