Homage to catatonia

Tonight Celtic will play in one of the great amphitheatres of the beautiful game.

On Saturday Celtic swatted Sevco in a thoroughly one-sided affair.

That drubbing is only really noteworthy for the extent to which the stenographers had built up the league fixture as some great clash of equals.

It wasn’t.

In the aftermath, the order went out to write about the game without mentioning the game.

They had some help in this regard.

The sex-shop Pierrepoint in the Celtic end provided a PR open goal for the deflection to move to another Level.

That rather sad individual really should have a word with himself.

The match against Sevco itself was a cruel spectacle.

I think it is fair to say that the four-year-old institution provided Celtic with their easiest match of the season so far.

In reality, the Celtic first team would have been more severely tested had they played the Development Squad at Lennoxtown on Saturday.

However, tonight Brendan Rodger’s team will be on the same pitch as a world-class ensemble.

Did you hear the one about the Argentinian, Brazilian and Uruguayan?

The attacking trio of Messi, Neymar and Suarez would have pleased the man from Burnbank who made the Hoops into the conquerors of Europe.

The Antrim man knows Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz rather well from their time together at Anfield.

To say that there is a great mutual affection and respect between the two would be to understate it.

The first of that trio is, in the opinion of many, the finest player ever to have played o jogo bonito.

Such opinions date you.

The 1970 World Cup burned the images of Pele into my twelve-year-old mind.

The country that they battered 4-1 on 3 June 1970 in the Jalisco Stadium in Guadalajara no longer exists.

Czechoslovakia opened the scoring, and I can still see Ladislav Petráš blessing himself in a way that I had not been taught to me at St Bridget’s.

Being allowed to watch late night matches beamed live from Mexico was a real treat in a fairly strict household.

For me, there was no other player on the planet like the Santos striker.

Then Diego Armando Maradona effectively won that competition on his own in 1986, and I had to re-calibrate my opinion.

The other diminutive left footed Argentinian has yet to do that on the world stage.

So, for now, I’m sticking with the little tank I saw play for Napoli as being the greatest player ever.

That said the Celtic team tonight could not have a tougher challenge in world football.

The lucky Celtic fans there will be in a stadium that in the dark days of Franco was a safe space to express a fugitive ethnicity and a banned nationality.

Today the Catalans are culturally confident and, unlike the Scots, are overwhelmingly united in their desire for autonomy from Madrid.

Their days of being at the back of the bus in Spain are over, and they’re not coming back.

The parallels between the two clubs who will meet tonight in the Camp Nou was not lost on their iconic playmaker Xavi:

“Celtic, like Barcelona, are more than a football club. Our clubs are a symbol of a culture and community that has not always been made welcome in their respective countries.”

In Fair Caledonia, many of the stenographers still pine for the return of a golden age when their klub ruled the roost in Scotland.

However, that’s the thing about death; it tends to be final.

The ersatz creature that was created in 2012 can only ever be the Espanyol of Glasgow.

Saturday was easy; tonight will be incredibly difficult.

Tonight Celtic will play a real football club.

One that has an illustrious history and good values.

In many ways, it is the standard bearer of a stateless nation.

If Barcelona is a template for a future independent state, then Catalunya would be a fine nation indeed.

From the youngest in their academy they are not just taught the proper way to play the game, but about the values they should hold dear to throughout life.

Meanwhile in the country where Celtic are the champions many are still stuck in denial about what they witnessed on Saturday on the turf at Parkhead.

The Fitba Fourth Estate  are capable of a Level of mental gymnastics that demonstrates more agility than anything Philippe Senderos can produce.

The writer in me thinks that there is a great Sevco novel to be written about the anguish of the dignified since 2012 and their Orwellian attempts at denial.

Homage to catatonia…

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