BARCELONA superstar Lionel Messi has warned his team-mates to beware Celtic.
The Argentinian striker has faced the Scottish champions several times in recent seasons in the Champions League and the clubs were reunited in Thursday’s draw once again.
Celtic and Barcelona have met 10 times in Europe in the last 12 years and will go head-to-head once more when they kick off this season’s group stage at the Nou Camp on September 13.
By coincidence, it was the scene of the Hoops’ last appearance in the group stage, a 6-1 hammering in December 2013 in Neil Lennon’s last season in charge.
But Messi remains wary. He said: “Celtic are a team we have got to know well in Europe and, after seasons without Champions League football, they will have a point to prove.
“Their team is very different to the ones we have played in the past. A lot of players have left and they have many new ones, but what won’t have changed is their spirit and desire.
“It’s always important in the Champions League to win the first game, especially if you want to win the group. Celtic will arrive with no pressure, but we know from previous experience they will fight hard and I don’t expect an easy game.”
Messi last faced Celtic at this level in November 2012 when his stoppage-time strike in Glasgow was a mere consolation as Lennon’s side triumphed 2-1, with goals from Victor Wanyama and Tony Watt.
He will be back at one of his favourite grounds in world football on November 23 and is looking forward to the return.
Messi added: “Their fans are going to fill the stadium with noise. We know that and it is a good thing for the competition that Celtic are back.
“The Barcelona players who have faced Celtic in the past have a lot of respect for the team and their fans. A lot of mutual respect has been built up after our games.
“I understand that there will be lots of talk about the Barcelona and Manchester City games, but we will treat every game the same.
“No game in the Champions League is easy and every game you play is the chance to win three points. That is all we will be focused on.”