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Wednesday, Apr 24th

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Celtic Manager Brendan Rodgers was delighted with the passion and heart his side showed against Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night as the Scottish Champions bounced back from their 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Barcelona on Matchday 1 to hold the Manchester giants to a 3-3 draw at home.

Rodgers was effusive in his praise for his team, saying, "I can't criticise the team, but there's always elements we can be better in. We were brilliant, the pressing and the energy. Every time we went forward we looked like we could score."

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Barcelona star Andres Iniesta has warned their Champions League opponents Celtic not to be fooled by their shock home loss to Alaves and insisted that they will get it right against the Scottish champions. While Celtic were rampaging past Rangers 5-1 in the Scottish Premier League, the Spanish giants were toiling to a 1-2 Nou Camp defeat against newly-promoted Basque minnows Alaves in a La Liga encounter.

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique pushed on Iniesta, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez from the bench in a desperate bid to salvage something, but to no avail.

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Celtic have completed the signing of Costa Rican defender Cristian Gamboa from English club West Bromwich Albion on a three year contract.

"Celtic are delighted to announce the signing of Cristian Gamboa from English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion on a three-year deal," said the Scottish club in a statement on Tuesday.

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FC Porto, AS Monaco, Glasgow Celtic, Legia Warszawa and Ludogorets Razgrad all qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stage following the completion of the second-leg of contests.

The Portuguese side on Tuesday thumped AS Roma 3-0 in the Italian capital to win 4-1 on aggregate. Roma, who battled to a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Portugal, fell behind in the 8th minute to a goal by Porto's Felipe, while visiting goalkeeper Iker Casillas made a pair of key stops. The home team was reduced to nine men with the expulsions on either side of half-time of Daniele de Rossi and Emerson Palmieri and conceded two more goals in the final 20 minutes.

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The Beautiful Game is a sport which brings together people of all castes and creeds, from all the corners of the world, to cheer for their beloved teams. And with European football being amongst the most glamorous in the world, the finals of its top tier competition – the Champions League – is certainly considered a sporting bonanza, probably surpassed only by the final of the FIFA World Cup.

The competition was started in the year 1955, known by the name European Champion Clubs' Cup, or simply the European Cup, until it was rebranded as the UEFA Champions League in 1992.

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Dutchman Virgil Van Dijk of Scottish Champions Celtic is rumoured as a name on the shopping list of Premier League high fliers Arsenal and Manchester City. The 22 year old who was signed last summer for  a meagre 1.6 million pounds from Dutch Eredivisie club F.C. Groningen, has been in sensational form after playing 19 of Celtic’s 20 games so far this season. The centre half has also hit the back of the net thrice this season, with all goals coming in the Scottish Premier League.

Arsenal have only three proper centre halves on their team sheet - Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen. Manchester City on the other hand have the rock solid pair of Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic, but their problem lies on the bench where their two back up centre halves are 33 year old Argentine Martin Demichelis, who is injury prone, and 31 year old ex-Evertonian Joleon Lescott, whose contract runs out in the summer. Both the teams are in need of another centre half who can act as backup for their first choice defenders, with the more established names uninterested in playing that role. Van Dijk, a rising star in a comparatively lower league may just be the perfect answer to Arsenal or City’s requirements.

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With current Barcelona number 1 Victor Valdes making it clear that he'll be looking for a new challenge in the summer, the question bothering every Barca fan is who will be his replacement. The rumour mill is on full swing and with the possible replacements remaining tight lipped about their future, here are the Top 3 candidates, who are ideal to be the new Catalan Numero Uno.

1. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen : The 1.9m tall Borussia Monchengladbach shot stopper has been on the Catalan's radar for a while now. His vision, reflexes and positioning has made him one of the best young talents in the goalkeeping fraternity. With representatives of Barca declaring their interest in him on numerous occasions, he is currently the frontrunner to be the man between the sticks at the Camp Nou next season.

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