Celtic again vulnerable to counter in Europe


20 minutes into last night’s Europa League game against Valencia, Celtic looked competent and in control, if not dangerous.  We had the majority of the ball (as we did for the rest of the game), enjoyed possession inside the Valencia box and had shots on target.

Valencia were probably happy to resist us for this opening period, but from that point onwards, they inhibited Celtic’s midfield from enjoying as much freedom.  Neither side made a chance worthy of the name until the opening goal, three minutes before the break.  Valencia’s second, four minutes after the interval, meant the tie was decided during a very short period of play.

While we opened well we failed to involve Oliver Burke throughout.  The only possession he got was to his feet with his back to goal, the ball invariably bouncing away from him.  Burke is a player who needs service into the channels – something that happened only once before the goals arrived.

For years I have shared fears here of Celtic playing so high up field against European opposition.  Tactics like this result in positives like “What a torrid opening four minutes we gave Juventus” before a counter-attack settles things.

I was actually encourage when Valencia started to compete more effectively midway through the first half, as our best game plan was to counter.  Keep it tight and play on the break, at this level, anything else is a ticket out of the tournament.  And that’s not just for Celtic, these are the tactics Valencia deployed.

The opening goal came through a poor attempt to play offside.  Jozo Simunovic stepped up as Parejo made the forward pass, forcing Sobrino into what should have been an offside position, but Emilio Izaguirre was four paces back, ostensibly, but not actually, covering Cheryshev.  Emilio did no better at the second goal, allowing Sobrino freedom of the box.  Insert the hoary old schoolboy analogy here.

There were things I liked, specifically, playing the ball out from the back.  With central defenders wide, full backs high and central mids deep, Scott Bain was able to find a player in space, 40 yards from goal, and start an attack.  This play is still in its infancy at Celtic, but we need to stick with it.

The impact of Odsonne Eduard, who played the last 30 minutes, was immediate.  It took defenders (plural) to close him down.  We also saw a new aspect to Timothy Weah, who came on at the same time as Edouard as a creative mid.  It was a curious performance from Timothy.  He was everywhere for five minutes, then stuck to position (presumably on instructions) and dropped out of things.

Central mid did not work.  Immediately after a defeat, there is a rabid tendency to find a scapegoat, which is seldom productive, but we need to ask the question why central mid didn’t work, and get it right for the qualifiers.  As for the defence, only Jozo will be around for the qualifiers, and he will most often be sitting beside us in the stands, so the consequences of these mistakes will not linger beyond May.

Valencia are not a PSG.  In competitive terms, I would put them between Salzburg and Leipzig.   I am not going to tell you we would put them out, but if we had played it tight, the tie would still be in the balance.

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  1. And now even further back, to a time when Charlie Nicholas was still my hero. Celtic 3v1 original Rangers. What a finish by aitken for the third!!

  2. Always like to have a wee look in to see what’s happening …



    Roy C delighted to see you on gutted that day as I was walking out the pub you were just walking in … you dodged one there :-)



    Thursday was a hard watch, the team that dropped out of the CL with more points than the team that came through the EL with less points … am afraid we need to take the good times (domestically) with the hard times (Europe) under Brendan… whether we like it or not our manager isn’t for changing his ways / fitba philosophy the matter how much anybody hammers their keyboard… I hope we have BR for many many seasons, as for tomorrow judging by the past when we take a doing in Europe we bounce back … a hard fought 3pts will do, i think we will take our European frustration out on Killie … plus Stevie Clarke is due a defeat fae the champions :-)

  3. Fairhill bhoy, the best ever in my memory too, what a year that was! I just remember so many late winners, and so much great fitba, amazing! Amazed I remember anything mind you!

  4. GFTB.


    Celtic put 5 past Stevie Clarke’s Killie last time out.


    An ex Celt scored 4 today.


    Yes, I had to do a double take, it was Amido Balde.


    Hail Hail

  5. JNP 9.25pm



    I missed the part we are due to beat them in Kilmarnock :-)



    Stop letting the facts of the last game we played them get in the way :-)

  6. FAIRHILL BHOY on 16TH FEBRUARY 2019 8:44 PM


    Darius Rucker?Wagon wheel




    My Karaoke song.?



    D. :)

  7. What is the Stars on

    Why didn’t Celtic push the boat out and signed Defoe. A game changer. Rangers can do it but Lawwell wont


    CQN Jan 2019.



    Celtic are never in the gutter but are always looking at the stars


    Oscar Wilde Jan 1899

  8. WHAT IS THE STARS on 16TH FEBRUARY 2019 9:33 PM



    To be fair i don’t think many wanted Defoe. I think most just wanted Celtic to be more proactive with their dealings.

  9. I know this is a bit retro, but I’m on YouTube tonight, how good was Billy Stark! What a player!

  10. JNP 9.32pm



    Unlucky for Dallas he has to listen to my rubbish and correct me every other day on all things Celtic …. am never one for getting the facts right :-) but at least I convince maself am right

  11. @GordonDimmack.com


    Why are media silent “on the Douma” fake news ?



    BBC Producer:


    “I can prove that the Douma chemical poisoning was staged.”



    Well worth a look.

  12. Dena.


    Good to see you posting.




    I’m fairly sure he corrects most of us.


    What he doesn’t know about Celtic isn’t worth knowing.




    Have you set yourself a challenge to mention our CEO every time you post?


    Night all.





    The pleasure was all ours my friend, great afternoon in great company…sparring between Marspapa and Norrie M was priceless. Good luck next, see you soon.


    Until we meet again…


    Keep the Faith!


    Hail Hail!