Barcelona legend Xavi makes a bold claim about Celtic fans

Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi coming up against Celtic's Scott Brown

The Catalan giants travel to Ireland to face the Scottish Premiership side in a pre-season friendly.

Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi coming up against Celtic's Scott BrownFormer Barcelona midfielder Xavi coming up against Celtic's Scott Brown

Ahead of the Champions Cup clash between the two sides, Barcelona legend Xavi has claimed that Celtic's supporters are the best in Europe and admitted that he wants to see the Hoops make it through to the group-stages of the Champions League this season, The Scottish Sun reports.

Brendan Rodgers' men go into the game against the midfielder's former club with one eye on the upcoming second-leg with Astana, having secured an incredibly promising 1-1 draw from their trip to Kazakhstan.

Celtic manager Brendan RodgersCeltic manager Brendan Rodgers

And the 36-year-old has explained why he wants them to come out on top in the rematch, as well as in the subsequent play-off round, before outlining just how influential he believes the Hoops' fans can be.

"I have always been outspoken about my affection for Celtic - and I really hope this is the year they can make it back into the Champions League," he told The Scottish Sun.

"It is a brighter tournament with them there.

"The atmosphere in their stadium is incredible - their fans are the best in Europe. It will be good to have them back."

Celtic fans as New Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is presented after the press conferenceCeltic fans

It could certainly be argued that the supporters can take some of the credit for the decent home record that Celtic have against the Catalan giants.

Since the turn of the Millennium, the two sides have faced each other on five occasions in competitive games at Parkhead, with the Bhoys coming out on top twice, while the defeats they have suffered have all been close.  

Celtic's Tony Watt scores their second goal against BarcelonaTony Watt scoring that famous second goal against Barcelona in 2012

It was one of those wins for Celtic that arguably exemplified how special a European night at Parkhead can be. For many fans, the memory of Tony Watt scoring the side's second in what would finish as a 2-1 win for Neil Lennon's men four years ago will go down as one of the greatest nights in the club's recent history.

And while Saturday's meeting will not hold the same significance, Rodgers will be hoping that the fans can create a similar atmosphere in the following fixture against Astana to help the side take another step towards the group-stages, where perhaps, Barcelona could be waiting. 

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch