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Celtic return to earth after Barca heroics

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GLASGOW, Scotland, November 9 – Celtic’s stars will come back to earth on Sunday following their Champions League heroics against Barcelona in midweek as they prepare for a Scottish Premier League tie against St Johnstone.

The Hoops players are still coming to terms with their historic 2-1 win over the La Liga leaders in Wednesday’s Group G match.

But despite putting in a number of impressive performances in Europe’s elite competition this season the Glasgow giants have struggled for consistency domestically.

A defeat by Kilmarnock on their last league outing at Parkhead was followed by a 2-2 draw with Dundee United last weekend.

A host of first team players missed the match against Barca through injury and many will struggle to be fit in time for St Johnstone leaving manager Neil Lennon to rely on fringe members of his squad.

One such player who has taken advantage of the injury crisis to shine in recent weeks is striker Miku, who believes he is finally getting back to his best after initially struggling at the Parkhead club following his summer move from La Liga.

The Venezuelan international was signed on a year’s loan from Spanish side Getafe in August but has taken his time to adapt to life in Scotland.

However, after scoring his first goal for the Parkhead club against Dundee United the forward was then picked to lead the line in Wednesday’s Champions League clash.

And looking ahead to Sunday’s SPL match against St Johnstone the striker insists his side’s shock defeat of the Catalan giants went some way to vindicate his move to Glasgow.

“Too many people in Spain thought my transfer to Scotland was a backwards step but I don’t think so,” Miku said.

“It’s not back, it’s a step in the same direction.

“People in Spain will respect football in Scotland more now because Barcelona is probably the best team in history but Celtic beat them in the Champions League.

“Hopefully we can go to the next round and that would be good for Scottish football.

“It’s a different league and country and I had two months when it was difficult because of the weather, the food and my wife doesn’t speak good English and my baby was sick, but now I am good, I am enjoying it and the manager speaks to me a lot.

“He told me football here is powerful and strong so I had to prepare my body and train hard.

“This weekend I scored a goal and last night I played all of the game so I feel very good.

“It is a big moment for me, very enjoyable, and the team are working hard.

“We need to rest then think of the next game against St Johnstone on Sunday.”

Elsewhere on Saturday, financially-stricken club Hearts take on third-placed Inverness Caledonian Thistle with the threat of closure hanging over the Edinburgh men due to an unpaid tax bill.

The Hearts board has told fans they must invest in shares and buy tickets to keep the business afloat – or it could close after the home game against St Mirren on November 17.

The Hearts players recently formed a group to invest their own cash in Hearts shares and manager John McGlynn said the period was difficult for them.

However the Tynecastle manager said they would all be professional in their aim of gaining more points from the league.

McGlynn said: “It’s not easy, it can’t be easy, the players know that after they play St Mirren they may not have a job.

“But we have to go out there, we are employees of the football club under contract and we have to be professional.”

Fixtures (1500 GMT unless otherwise stated)

Saturday

Inverness CT v Hearts (1200), Kilmarnock v Ross County, Motherwell v Dundee, St Mirren v Aberdeen

Sunday

Hibernian v Dundee United (1245), Celtic v St Johnstone

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