In days of yore Celtic would rattle nine goals past the Finnish champions on European Cup duty. That was never going to be on the cards last night but there remains a clear gap in quality between the teams. HJK Helsinki are no better than Hearts, but were clearly sharper.
The tie remains very much in the balance, a ‘Big Dan moment’, similar to what happened away to Sion last season, and the odds would stack heavily against Celtic progressing, and although HJK didn’t impress much, neither did Utrecht, who lost 2-0 at Celtic Park two years ago before wiping the floor with a disorganised Celtic a week later.
I have a few concerns.
Last season it worried me how dependent we had become on Charlie Mulgrew to create goals. His delivery from the left back position, not to mention his runs to the back post, were significant in Celtic overcoming the early season deficit.
Today we are a few central defenders lighter, if not any worse off in that department, but without Charlie galloping down the wing we are immeasurably less potent. Emilio is an able left back, but his performances are several degrees below his Player of the Year form and he is categorically not a goal creator. A double jeopardy is that when Emilio is behind Georgios Samaras on the left, instead of the more defensively minded Joe Ledley, we seem to have a real weak point.
If we are to start with a lone striker and five in the middle next week we’ll need Charlie on the left. This will stiffen up our weak spot and give HJK more to worry about.
The video moment for the players to study must surely be Georgios Samaras cross for the first Celtic goal. In case you missed it, the cross evaded the first defender. In this respect it was quite stunning and contrasted markedly to what was going on across on the right wing for most of the evening.
Early Player of the Year tip: Adam Matthews. Usain Bolt must be relieved our man is not a sprinter almost as much as Victor Wanyama is relieved he’s a footballer.
Our three raffles end at 19:10 TONIGHT! For the sum of only £1 you stand a chance of winning a painting of Henrik Larsson mid goal celebration, Scott Brown inventing the Broony or a print of our manager in his playing days.
It has never been easier or cheaper to contribute to the concept of what our club is all about, go buy a ticket.
Martin Chambers of the Ecuador Trust was in touch this morning. He said, “If you are able to help, the money will be used to fund the Soup Kitchen that we run each day feeding 150 of the poorest children in the shanty town – kids who would otherwise go hungry. Hope to hear from you soon” (he means you).
Feeding kids who would otherwise go hungry. Where have you heard that idea before?
For £1 you can win:
What are you waiting on, do it now, there are only a few hours left! And after you have clicked on ‘buy a ticket’, DON’T FORGET TO PAY, as some people have. Just like social taxes, paying for your raffle ticket is NOT optional!