Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Celtic's Ledley excited to take on might of Barcelona

Midfielder Joe Ledley gets in a shot during Celtic's 5-0 romp in the SPL against St Mirren

St Mirren 0 Celtic 5: Joe Ledley will enjoy further vindication of his decision to join Celtic when he takes to the field at the Nou Camp tomorrow night.

The Wales international (25) raised some eyebrows two years ago when he turned down the chance to go to England to sign for the Parkhead club from Cardiff.

Ledley's dream of playing in the Champions League came true this season and, after helping the Hoops to a 5-0 Clydesdale Bank Premier League win over St Mirren in Paisley, he turned his attention to Barcelona, and the scintillating prospect of taking on one of the greatest clubs in world football.

“I'd have liked it sooner,” he said.

“It's taken a while but we're finally here — qualifying is a fantastic achievement — and we all look forward to these sorts of games.

“We just need to go there and enjoy it and you never know what could happen.

“They're a fantastic team, for me the best in the world.

“It's going to be a big step-up for us and it'll be more difficult than we're used to.

“They'll have more of the ball than we will and are sure to attack well. So we'll need to be on our toes, defensively as pairings and as a unit.

“We've done well so far but there isn't too much pressure on ourselves. If we can stop them then hopefully we can counter-attack.

“But we believe we can go there and do something. It's a great opportunity for us.”

Celtic will travel to Barcelona buoyed by a sparkling performance against the Buddies.

Victor Wanyama's double amid goals from Gary Hooper, Efe Ambrose and Tony Watt gave Hoops manager Neil Lennon the commanding victory he was looking for ahead of their meeting with the Catalan giants, whom they trail at the top of Group G after two games.

Ledley said: “”It was a fantastic performance, especially in the first half. We defended really well, created loads of opportunities and, on another day, we could have scored more goals. The gaffer said it was a game we needed to win with Tuesday in mind, just to boost our confidence.

“We did that and now look forward to facing Barcelona.”

St Mirren manager Danny Lennon highlighted the difference in resources between the two clubs as he licked his wounds.

Celtic skipper Scott Brown (hip), winger James Forrest (groin) and midfielder Kris Commons (hamstring) were missing and striker Georgios Samaras was left out to allow a recent elbow injury to heal further with full-backs Emilio Izaguirre and Mikael Lustig starting on the bench.

The Saints boss said: “I thought Celtic's transition from defence to attack was incredible.

“They were in their own box and within five seconds they were having at attempt at our goal.

“But when you see their bench and see who they left out, I think that showed the gulf between the sides.”

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