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. The hands cant hit what the eyes cant see on




    Well it is one of naivety or delusion as to our ability. Valencia did not attempt to play out from the back or play an expansive game. They played a defensively solid, counter-attacking game even though they were the favourites before the game and had the far superior squad. Real Madrid played a counter-attacking strategy away to Ajax; and they have won the tournament 3 years on the bounce!



    I don’t want to necessarily focus on transfers but, save for the window just passed where we appearing to be making amends, our previous 2 windows were pretty dire and showed a real lack of ambition at a time when we had records results both on and off the park.



    If we accept that we only parked the bus once against Barca and lost 6-0 (notwithstanding its a sample number of one), then surely that poor result is outweighed by the 12-1 humping by PSG? The 3-0 going on 5 by Bayern Munich? The home defeats to each of Valencia, Salzburg and Anderlecht where we were played off the park? Maybe time to amend the strategy slightly.



    To reiterate the point in my first post: notwithstanding domestic exploits, it’s still acceptable to criticise BR’s performance at a European level. Loathed as am I to mention them, Sevco drew home and away with Villarreal who managed to go to Lisbon and win last night. Sevco are a team of poor players but they are organised.



    Also, I don’t see the point in denigrating WGS or NL. WGS won a treble of titles and took us to the last 16 twice. Lennon achieved some good success for the club as well and both were up against a financially doped Oldco.



    I would still choose Rodgers over both but he and his tactics can and should still be criticised when merited.

  2. We got beat by the better team, it happens. Our midfielders were to keen to take the easy option out wide or back even when they could move forward with the ball or force a foot race between our attacking and their defenders but that would risk losing the ball.



    Eduard made a difference becuase he picked up the ball and was very direct, he forced their backline to think and to act and he got some joy.



    Everything we do with the ball (keen ball) should be about getting the attacking players into positions were they are facing up defenders or in foot races, not facing their own goal.



    The balance is not correct with this team and the only person whp can address that is the coaches and the players.

  3. I know more than Brendan Rodgers about tactics in Europe. The guy who has won us 7 trophies in a row in Scotland hisnae a clue in Europe. Aye. We should be beating Valencia wi our current team. CQN at its best.


    Compare the La Liga culture to SPFL culture.


    We were shite last night. Curtains for Izzy and Broony because of age. I thought Calmac and Ryan were poorer. Calmac is not the messiah, as many on here think he is.


    Average SPFL standard player.


    Don’t believe the Hype.



  4. the long wait is over on




    Agree re Burke. Never a proper centre forward.



    Playing that role he reminds me of Craig Beattie.

  5. BTW


    Timothy Weah is a proper fitba player.


    Exciting to watch his skill on the baw.



  6. Starry Plough



    Fair enough – I forgot ! – though they were in Lenny’s early days.



    When I meant embarrassed, I meant the PSG humpings for starters.

  7. The hands cant hit what the eyes cant see on

    @ DELANEYS DUNKY on 15TH FEBRUARY 2019 2:26 PM



    Paul’s article states: “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.”



    We can’t let the discussion descend into, “BR is a successful manager so you can’t criticise/could you do it better?”. I’m not a politician but I still can recognise and criticise the complete mess that is Brexit.



    I don’t think anyone thinks we should be beating Valencia but that performance last night was a re-run of our performances against Salzburg, Anderlecht etc.



    Also, as stated before, Brugge beat Salzburg and BATE beat Arsenal and Malmo gave Chelsea a game and lost 2-1, so hoping that Celtic compete better is hardly a pipe dream.

  8. I know nowt about nowt esp fitba’ but what struck me last nights game was the marked difference when Eddy and Tim’O came one – we lit up briefly.Ability is unmistakable, Class counts and money talks………….at this level we were found out. We started well, remarkably so with pace and purpose but that mob just…….waited.



    Not angry, just sad.




  9. Brendan should be able to adapt our tactics for every game. As well as playing to our strengths, we should focus on what we perceive as areas of weakness from our opponents. For example, if one of their top players is injured then we should focus on any inexperienced replacement. We should be able to change formation at any point in games and not just by substitutes or at half time.



    Brendan spoke about this last year and claimed that we could play multiple formations. No sign of that.



    Indeed, Brendan has allowed our squad to become bloated and training must be a nightmare with 35 players all having to be coached. The squad is too large and whilst we have multiple cover for injuries it costs us a lot to pay wages for unused players. 21 last night.



    People come on here and say we need to sign 3 defenders a midfielder and a striker then that’s half a team. we need to slim the squad down allowing the wages bill reduced and allow the coaching to focus on the players who will be playing. The first squad has 5 out on loan.We also have a reserve squad of 16 with 7 out on loan



    Devries, Commper, Hendry, Gamboa, Allan, Benyu, Kouassi, Arzani are surplus to requirements and will likely never play this season.



    Benkovic, Toljan, Burke, Weah are on loan and will likely go back to their parent club.



    Brendan needs to slim down the total players from 63 down substantially.



    I know injuries have been high but Brendan should be able to operate with a squad of 26 packed up by a reserve squad of around 20

  10. The Hands


    As my fellow Bankie jist posted, “we got funn oot last night.” Valencia are vastly superior than Celtic.

  11. Totally Wilde



    Brendan was Ruthless in his first Season.



    I cannae wait, a late kick off even for a Sunday, to hear the Team sheet.



    Keep the Faith.

  12. The hands cant hit what the eyes cant see on

    @ DELANEYS DUNKY on 15TH FEBRUARY 2019 2:42 PM



    Of course they are.



    Celtic are vastly superior to Kilmarnock, Hearts and Hibs, but how has that worked out at times this season?

  13. Pete


    I am still mad about last night.


    Think Celtic shat the bed.


    We are a very poor, low ranking European team. Sad but true.



  14. thomthethim for Oscar OK on

    So, is the consensus now that we applied the wrong tactics and had ideas above our station?



    Both teams were guilty of giving the ball away cheaply, but we never capitalised on their mistakes, whilst thay punished ours.



    Personally, I think the rot set in last night when Scott Brown’s brain went to sleep and he performed a selection from the “What Not To Do On A Football Pitch” compilation.



    Maybe playing St.Johnstone three times almost consecutively numbed the collective brain of the team.



    Basically, we thought we could play against a supposedly misfiring Spanish team in the same manner as an SPFL opponent.



    Bad,bad misjudgment.



    Over to you ,Brendan.



    Off to the shops for the €10 off six bottles of wine offer at Supervalu.

  15. THCH @ 2.12



    Criticise BR all you like, its hardly likely to change anything especially when you conclude you’d rather have him than any of his peers.



    None of them were near winning seven domestic trophies in a row. yes, the last time we tried to park the bus was in the Camp Nou. BR has played open attacking football with little or no variation in Europe or in Scotland since, give or take the occasional extra midfielder.



    Valencia are on a different level at the moment to Villareal and Sevco need we remind ourselves were ‘organised’ enough to beat us, thats why we get a showing up when the big guns arrive, you ignore that we splt the Red Bull clubs with BR’s high press.



    Your solution sounds like we need a new coach for Europe and need to be ‘organised’ just like we were with Kelvin Wilson and Efe Ambrose at the heart of the defence to beat Barcelona? I’d rather take the Europa out of the equation, and have a successful Celtic win the treble with the best squad and manager in Scotland, and see what summer brings for next years tilt.




    No worries mate but if I’m honest with myself and I’m 58, Celtic have been getting humped in Europe for years with the occasional blip, yet I start every season with hope in my heart that this year we can do something but even an optimist like me can see the gap between us and say PSG widens every year.



    Even the name tells you what competitions we play in, the CL is essentially a money spinning venture played out between the teams from the big leagues and they divvy up the wedge at the end, is it even football any more? Just business.



    The Beautiful Game is Now The Global Game with groups of Galaticos/Mercenaries plying their trades to the highest bidders. I became disillusioned with football a long time ago so I’m probably not the best to talk about it:))



    We could sell the Celtic Soul and become a franchise like Liverpool, Man City, PSG but we would still be in the 20th league in Europe and how many of us would want to watch Red Bull Celtic.



    Like a lot things right now I don’t see any easy way forward for Celtic, but Brendans insistence in a passing game at all levels should bear fruit in the future, we have to grow our own and they need to be technically better than they are now.



    If you buy success PSG would be Kings Of Europe, they went one round further than us last year..

  17. The Hands


    The Killie, Hertz and Hibs up their performance level against us.


    We seem incapable of beating better teams than us. Brendan is magic at shooting fish in a barrell in Scotland. Not so good at going up against the big European bullies.


    Has Brendan beat a team we were not expected to beat yet????

  18. Garry,



    So annoyed myself Bro.



    Celtic is All about Europe.



    We Must Keep the Faith.



    I know Ajax dinnae get much likes on here but their actual team on the park bloodied the nose of the Aristocracy. Small nation VAR …. Nah.



    The Beautiful game is gone – It definitely went when Juventus got the Mega helping hand @ Celtic Park when…. History Now.



    Don’t ever forget about anyone




  19. Am I the only one who thinks we can get a result in Valencia?



    Arguably, our best European result, under Brendan was away from home – against Anderlecht. The tie isn’t over… a goal for us in the first 10 minutes will put the cat amongst the pigeons.



    We we very poor last night and Valencia will underestimate us at their peril. We won’t be as poor next week. We’ll hopefully have KT back and go for broke. We’ve nothing to lose.



    We’re better, much better than we showed last night. Let’s take care of Killie first though.



    Mon the Hoops??☘️

  20. the long wait is over on

    larssonse7en on 15th February 2019 3:03 pm




    Am I the only one who thinks we can get a result in Valencia?






    Yes, I’m afraid you probably are…

  21. ” The media had us having a chance in consequence of them supposedly having lost their form , if that is them out of form , I really hope they aren’t in form when we play them In Napoli .They were simply so much better than us ”



    Ludovic Magnin – Manager of Zurich FC after Zurich 1-Napoli 3 -14 2 2019.



    Off oot to a wedding — Party Time –



  22. The hands cant hit what the eyes cant see on




    Sorry, but I’m struggling to understand why my comments seemingly grate you.



    Do I think my comments will influence BR’s approach? No. But it’s a forum of discussion.



    Arsenal and Salzburg are on another level and lost to teams with less financial clout than us last night. Qarabag drew twice with Atletico Madrid last year and again, they are a team with less financial clout against a better opponent than Valencia.



    “just like we were with Kelvin Wilson and Efe Ambrose at the heart of the defence to beat Barcelona?” You kind of prove my point. With some organisation and discipline we defeated Barca with a back line of Efe and Kelvin Wilson and Miku and Tony Watt!



    We now have a better coach and players (in the main) but are not producing upsets as before nor are the games tight. All I’m advocating for is a more balanced approach to Europe (as are other posters).



    Again, I don’t expect BR to take up my advice, but it’s a Celtic fan forum to discuss all things Celtic.

  23. Pete


    Parochial Scottish fitba is starting to bore me.


    I love the buzz of big Euro games. Then you realise that Celtic are one of the poorest fitba teams participating in European fitba. Sad but true.


    ’67 was 52 years ago.


    What have Celtic done in Europe since?


    Seville seems a blip now.



  24. Love and Forgiveness I reckon is why the Corinthian Celtic huvnae dropped the A-Bomb



    Win the small Battles EVERY where.



    I reckon Jacob Rees Mogg is a good Dude – My Dad cannae stand him.

  25. traditionalist88 on

    LARSSONSE7EN on 15TH FEBRUARY 2019 3:03 PM


    Am I the only one who thinks we can get a result in Valencia?





    I’d say you probably are, but admire your optimism. 1-3 and through on away goals? Sure we’d take it…




  26. Garry 3:08,






    You Sir, Ye are MAGICAL way beyond anything.



    I wore the Lucky Shirt we walked along that Deserted Belfast street Last Night – it didnae get my Desired result.



    Keep the Faith Brother in Rhthym.

  27. TTT


    ‘Maybe playing St.Johnstone three times almost consecutively numbed the collective brain of the team’



    Thats a good point and one I hadn’t really thought about. Valencia were far sharper and quicker with foot and mind. The latter being more important. It was poor preparation but beyond our control.

  28. Whoever scouted Puccini for Celtic is doing his job. Thought he was brilliant player.



  29. I wonder if PL was still promoting the idea of a third tier European competition when he, allegedly, met with top UEFA officials yesterday? Realistically it is the only way we could really hope to compete in the later stages of a Euro comp at present.

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