Kieran Tierney believes Celtic will face “three great teams” in the Champions League, but insists the Hoops are not there to make up the numbers.
The 19-year-old defender was at Celtic Park for the group stage draw and watched the Scottish champions drawn in Group C alongside Barcelona, Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach.
Celtic qualified for first time in three seasons with a 5-4 aggregate win over Israeli side Hapoel Be’er Sheva and their last game in European football’s elite club competition ended in a 6-1 defeat in the Nou Camp.
Tierney, who missed the 3-1 loss to the Catalan giants in the International Champions Cup match in Dublin at the end of July, has been a long-time admirer of Barca, but is determined to help Brendan Rodgers’ side get into the knock-out stages.
The Scotland international said: “It is a great draw, three great teams. That is why you are in the Champions League, to play the best.
“People asked me who I wanted, but I really didn’t mind because you are going to get three great teams and six great games.
“I have always thought that (Barca are the best team in world) with Lionel Messi and players like that.
“Growing up, it was brilliant to watch them and now hopefully I can play against them.
“I think it is difficult in any group. This is the best of the best.
“It is the biggest competition and we are delighted to be there, but we are not just there to make up the numbers.
“It is going to be very, very tough. Everyone knows that, but we have to stay positive, do our work on the training field and you never know what can happen.”
Tierney came through the Parkhead youth system and is well known for being a ball boy on the night four years ago – November 7, 2012 – when Tony Watt scored what was ultimately the winner in a dramatic 2-1 victory over Barcelona.
Asked about his memories of that game, he said: “I remember sitting in the corner with a ball in my hand, just looking at the ball and thinking, ‘This is brilliant’, and four years later I am dying to play in a game like that.
“I missed out on that game in Ireland, so it will be a first for me and I am really looking forward to it.
“Qualifying is hard part, we got through six games and we did well to get through, so it is now about focusing on the group.”
“It could’ve been easier” said Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell, speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound.
“There’s some real glamour ties in there – some really great nights ahead at Celtic Park.
“I don’t think they will be relishing coming to us with the supporters, the atmosphere, the occasion we put on there.
“It couldn’t be any more difficult but Brendan has got off to a great start. It has been a remarkable first couple of months for him.
“We will attempt to get one more player in before next Wednesday’s (transfer) deadline.”
Patrick Roberts is on loan at Celtic from Manchester City but the English club’s director of football, Txiki Begiristain, appeared relaxed about the prospect of the winger facing the Blues
He told City’s official website: “Yes, why not? Our target is to make him a better play and play in games such as this so we will see.”
Celtic begin their campaign with trip to the Nou Camp on Tuesday, September 13.
Two home games follow – against Manchester City (September 28) and Borussia Monchengladbach (October 19) – before the Hoops travel to Germany for the return fixture against the Bundesliga side on November 1.
Celtic host Barcelona on November 23 before they complete their Group C fixtures against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, December 6.