The Celtic player looks forward with anticipation rather than apprehension to next week's trip to Camp Nou. "You can't fear them," said Mulgrew of the Champions League match against Barcelona. "You have to enjoy it, embrace the game. There is no point in having fear."
He is, however, aware of the scale of the difficulties that will be presented on Tuesday, particularly by Lionel Messi. "He has destroyed some of the best defenders in the world. He's a great player, but not their only great player; that's the big problem. If you worry about stopping him, there are another eight or nine world-class players who can cause you problems. We have to work out how to contain the whole team," said Mulgrew.
The 26-year-old Scot believes Celtic's campaign in Europe can offer some relief from the unrelenting pain of a failed World Cup qualifying attempt. "It would give the game a shot in the arm," said Mulgrew of the still viable prospect of Celtic qualifying after a home draw against Benfica and an away win against Spartak Moscow. "Even us qualifying for the Champions League was a boost – getting through two rounds was great for Scottish football. But now that we're here we don't just want to make up the numbers. We want to compete, get to the last 16 and go as far as we can. It would be a disappointment not to make the last 16, having put ourselves in this position."
The 3-2 victory in Moscow is significant. It may have little bearing on stemming what should be an irresistible tide in Barcelona, but the crop of Celtic players now know what it is like to match a technically proficient Benfica and win on the road in the group stages.
Mulgrew believes this experience is vital, saying of the group stages: "You watch it a lot and hear a lot about it but, until you play in it and pick up points in a place like Moscow, that's what gives you the huge belief."
Four Scottish internationalists played leading roles in that victory. Scott Brown was typically energetic, Mulgrew helped shore up the defence and also provided a cross for the second equaliser. Kris Commons was dangerous throughout and James Forrest came on to play an influential part in the win.
Mulgrew, who signed an extended contract keeping him at Parkhead until the summer of 2016, is enthusiastic about the quality of the group, though he insisted he was not in the business of making vainglorious predictions. Neverthless, his progress and that of the team is undeniable. It is only four years since he was playing on loan at Southend United and he is now part of a championship-winning team with European ambitions.
These will be put on hold this afternoon as Celtic travel to St Mirren with some of the team still smarting from the reaction from their manager to defeat against St Johnstone that formed the preview to the home match against Benfica.
Mulgrew made it clear Lennon's focus is to pick up three points today. "You need to do your best to put the Camp Nou to the back of your mind because, if you don't, you could put the team in trouble," said Mulgrew, who was speaking at the announcement of Celtic's £10,000 donation to PoppyScotland. "The manager drills it home to us that we focus on St Mirren."
This drive for victory is the very essence of the professional game but Mulgrew believes it could be to the detriment of players in their early days. He took issue with the Buckfast and burgers diagnosis by Mark Wotte, the SFA performance director, for the ills of Scottish football. Asked if these were all down to problems with diet, Mulgrew said: "I don't think so, but at a young age there is a lot of emphasis on winning in Scotland. Coming through, it is all about winning and a lot less about performances and I think that is a big problem in Scotland. Even at Celtic, at a young age, it was about winning and I think you have to have that mentality, but when you are young the most important thing is your technical ability – and I think that shows in other countries as you get older."
Mulgrew, though, appreciates that there is a generation below him of Celtic players who have won both for club and country and who have allied technique to determination. Players such as Dylan McGeouch and Tony Watt have made significant contributions already to this first team and others such as Marcus Fraser, Joe Chalmers and John Herron have succeeded for Scotland Under-19s and wait to do the same for Celtic.
They will not be part of the team that faces a testing week, but their examination will come.
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