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. Fairhill. Of course you can make a horse swim, just harness him up and pull him into the water and I can assure you he will swim, a little bit more difficult to make him drink, thus the saying.

  2. Any animal you throw in water will swim, it’s a basic survival instinct obviously if you keep it in water indefinitely it will become exhausted and drown.


    Close to where I live I see people bringing horses to swim quite regularly. Not a bother in the world on them.

  3. CORKCELT-I’m sure you’re correct,but it was a saying a longtime gone now friend of mine and MARSPAPA’s used to say often ?


    Happy days Kenny

  4. Eight points clear will be a great end to a frustrating week. I’m falling out of love with our European nights as we seem to be more famous for the pre-match choreographed show and Ynwa. Fortress Paradise is no more but fan videos of our hospitality fill YouTube. I’d rather challenge on the field.



    3 points tomorrow Celts; plastic or not we have better players.




  5. CORKCELT-I was watching a wildlife program on big cats today,do you know the only big cat that can swim?

  6. The correct saying Fairhill, is You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink., If you doubt me Google it, it’s a very old proverb.


    Not trying to be a smart ass just having a bit of fun with you. Any day the Hun’s get a kick in the arse and Cork win in hurling I get a bit carried away with myself.

  7. To be honest Fairhill, I never heard of a cat who couldn’t swim, most of them don’t like swimming but if they end up in water they will swim. If there are Cats who can’t swim I genuinely would like to know what species.

  8. CORKCELT- like a said you’re probably correct,but it was a phrase or saying an old departed and much missed friend said often ?

  9. No harm in the world Fairhill, as I told you before Fairhill in Cork has a very special place in my heart, anyone under that name whether right or wrong, are right by me.


    With that I’ll bid you and the blog goodnight & God Bless.

  10. Definitely, last post tonight. Yes Fairhill , Tigers are good swimmers, so are Leopards & Jaguars but all cats including our domestic cats up to Lions can swim, The domestic cat has been domiciled to avoid water and will do all it can to avoid going in to water but if you throw it in it will swim.

  11. Well here I am ………….home again and its only 23.30 as I type this.



    What happened to that last post as I sat there gulping down the last dregs of inspiration?



    “Someone deleted it?” I’ll deal wae that later.



    Anyway, off to Valencia on Monday and had to come home early to make sure that I got up in good time the morra to pick whit two tops I would take with me. Early is needed because they’ll need ironed and I’ll have to go and buy an iron and then learn how to use it.



    But just before I deal with my deleted missive, could I just say that this is the first time that I am fairly ambivalent whether I get a ticket or not. Five days in Valencia has a multitude of attractions…seeing us getting humped is not one of them. BUT IF ANYONE COMES ACROSS A DISCARDED SPARE…I’m yer archetypal glutton for punishment.



    So back to my dissolved thoughts on Thursday’s game….ach I cant remember what I penned. In fact I may not have even posted it. In further fact without even knowing anything about anything I find myself fully qualified to castigate, excoriate and fulminate over the lack of skill, talent and basic humanity of the moderators.






    Ma post has gei’d a body swerve,



    Been deleted? A bleedin nerve!



    Ah wisnae really goin tae shoot



    Wis jist a joke, a jolly hoot.




    Yer windaes are quite safe with me,



    Burn yer hoose? Oh dearie me!



    Kick yer dog? kidnap yer cat?



    Smash yer budgie? A baseball bat?




    Geeza break, it’s jist a lark



    Ah won’t be lurking after dark



    Ah widnae ever eat yer weans



    Or serve them up in fava beans.




    Ah widnae dope yer petrol mix



    As fur yer brakes? I’d never fix



    Them to get stuck upon a hill



    I never said you need a will.




    So where’s ma post, whose wiped it oot?



    Some sneaky git, green hun nae doot.



    Ah’ll smash his heid between two bricks!



    Lawwell lovers, a bunch of pricks.



    I’ll drop a few observations on my gallivant to Valencia ….If I don’t burn ma shirt wae the iron!



    Hail Hail




  12. mike in toronto on

    Proof that you can lead a horse to water …. if you have a really bad sense of direction!






    (taken this week in Antigua … fortunately, this was not the dive on which I saw an 8 foot black tipped shark!)