In the absence of Cameron Carter-Vickers, Celtic will pair Stephen Welsh and Moritz Jenz in central defence in the Bernabeu against Real Madrid tonight. These two have only played together once before, at St Mirren Park, which saw our only domestic defeat of the season. The omens are not good.
If you are in the business of looking for more generous portents, there’s always that game in Barcelona 18 years ago, when a teenage David Marshall and 20-year-old John Kennedy were drafted into the Celtic side that denied Ronaldinho et al. Results like this do happen, as most of the CQN demographic are old enough to testify.
What does not happen, ever, is the likes of Celtic pitching up at the home of the European champions, playing open, expansive football, with an inexperienced and young central defence, and leaving with anything other than an absolute drubbing.
Ange, for the love of everything green and white, defend tonight. Regard forward runs with anything more than three players a ridiculous extravagance. Deny Real openings, like a two-on-one overload at the back post. Ask John Kennedy how exhilarating it was to be the extra man necessary to scoop the ball away from an opponent just before he shot.
We are five lessons into the Champions League this season in a group that held such promise when the draw was made. Nothing will be learned from discovering what will happen if both full backs simultaneously bomb forward to give Stephen and Moritz forward passing options. Even a win, unlikely as it is, will not affect our bottom of the group status.
Tonight is hopefully a dry run for what we will do away to tier one teams in next season’s Champions League. Let’s use it effectively.