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.

Click Here for Comments >

About Author

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 16

  1. Pete


    Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush.


    Don’t Give Up.


    Reckon that song rescued me.


    Powerful Peter.


    Thank you






    ? I’ve always been a lone wolf.



    Traditionalist @ 3:10



    I said at full time last night… “right we will just have to win 3 nil over there, actually no… 3-1 will do… let’s not be greedy!”




  3. LARSSONSE7EN on 15TH FEBRUARY 2019 3:03 PM


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






    Aye mhate. A home win!!




    HH jg

  4. Last month in Amsterdam, a gorgeous female of Dutch extract, asked me why all these mad Scottish folk were singing a KC and the Sunshine Band song.


    Our reply.


    ” nanananananana Gerry Cinnamon, Cinnamon Gerry Cinnamon.”



    Magical concert in theDam.

  5. Petec



    Jacob Rees Mogg.



    The man worth £100m+ who took advantage of state subsidies to restore the family pile while thousands sleep rough.



    The man who campaigned for Brexit who’s now moved his business interests to Dublin to avoid being affected?



    The man who defended Churchill by saying that mortality rates in British concentration camps in the boer war were ‘no worse’ than that of the slums of Glasgow at the time.



    If there is a god. And if there is a hell, there’s no amount of factor 1 million sunblock that will mitigate his pain. Apart perhaps, the company of his Aunti Maggie.



    HH jg

  6. James


    My Ryan goes to his first Celtic away game in Europe next week. Told him that I hope he matches my first Celtic away trip 2-1 in Amsterdam. Doubt it.


    Valencia is a far better place than Amsterdam, however.



  7. jamesgang,



    You may be right, you may be wrong.



    In this day and age Anyone standing up for the unborn is Mega in my Tiny Mind.



    Trumps Every other thing IMO.

  8. THCH @ 3.05



    Your’e absolutely right mate its a football forum not just for ‘cheesey’ posts.



    Like I said fill your boots with critique, but you’ll hardly be surprised if others in the discussion get ‘grated’ or ‘see things differently’ and respond when your’e constantly on here after a reverse, questioning the judgement of arguably our bestest ever manager?



    Few if any posted congratulations to BR when his failed ‘high press’ and ‘ lack of organisation ‘ finished second in a tough group with nine points.



    Your posts have turned on Brendan now that the window has closed and you don’t have your original target.

  9. Trump had paid for abortions.


    Had Hitler been anti abortion, would you have endorsed his other policies??



    DD I hope your dear Bhoy loves it!! I know he will. You are both a credit to each other.



    HH jg

  10. Petec



    What a tune, i can’t remember the last time I heard that and the last time I did hear it, i certainly wouldn’t have been able to remember hearing it ?



    As for last night, well we opted out of Europe in the summer so we have done tremendously well to reach last 32.



    I tried to exercise a bit of caution on Sunday but realism is seen as negativity on CQN.



    Domestic honours are my hopes and aspirations for this season and I’m taking nothing for granted including Sunday.



    Just win Sunday and I’ll be a happy Tim.

  11. jamesgang on 15th February 2019 4:04 pm



    Trump had paid for abortions.





    Had Hitler been anti abortion, would you have endorsed his other policies??




    DD I hope your dear Bhoy loves it!! I know he will. You are both a credit to each other.




    HH jg





    I’m guessing Big Chap you are talking to me.



    Has he really paid for abortions personally – I mean Terminating his own?

  12. James


    8 Saint Thomas Aquinas FPs in an airbnb villa in Valencia. Wish I was with there wi them.


    Monday to Friday holiday in The greatest Spanish City.

  13. Just watched their goals again (must be a masochist) both quality breaks and passes it has to be said, but we lost the ball to them cheaply on both occasions.


    Thats it over anyways, onwards to Sunday.

  14. If Celtic get a result in Valencia I’ll eat Young Miss Starry’s Doc Martens whilst taking a pony on a 10×8 of Jacob Rees Mogg:)))



    ‘ave some of that you patomime toff:))

  15. A 2 hour cooling off period done me the World of Good Last Night..



    Listening and looking @ the Sasha naeone wears.



    Dance music enthusiast – Sorry.

  16. It’s such a shame we couldnae dae that Spotlight on the Huddle because of UEFA.



    Iconic- Ironic



    tiocfaidh ar (sorry keyboard disnae huv the Symbol) la



    Celtic is Good.

  17. Fool Time Whistle on

    The Hands Can’t Hit…



    Much of what some folk (maybe us all) post today is often tainted by folk’s default stance on the usual Celtic hobby horses.


    The Board, Transfers, Pete’s Bonus, etc etc


    Trying to decode comments that are simply an exercise in confirmation bias becomes fraught. I don’t see your post in that way.



    I think you’re correct in asserting that our strategy in Europe is out of kilter both with our domestic play & especially with our past experiences in Europe. I’m open to correction on this, but my recollection is that we have suffered all our heaviest defeats in Europe under Brendan’s watch. I have not gone back through the records to verify this though. In effect, regardless of the gulf in class that we have all admitted exists between us & the higher echelons of Continental sides, we have traditionally made a decent fist of containing them or not losing heavily. This is what has changed under Brendan.



    I want us to play football the Brendan way – but not against opposition for whom such a style of play makes thumpings a regular occurrence. Professionally embarrassing results destroy morale & undermine a player’s confidence in their coach & his strategy.


    Under Brendan’s watch we have lowered our own European expectations so much that we now talk openly of being a “Europa League” team. Frankly, this is an astonishing revelation. Though unlikely to reach the final or last 4 of the big cup competition we were very competitive in the group stages under MON, WGS & NFL.



    I don’t believe that the quality of player we now have is significantly lower than during any of the three named previous managers. For me it’s a pointless exercise comparing players from different eras but my point is that the squads are largely comparable. We also had bad transfer windows under these managers but somehow that seemed less imporatnt as long as the team did well enough. Willo Flood anyone?



    Jock Stein himself knew that playing open & optimistic football in Europe from a position of strength was daft. He parked several buses to thwart Dukla Prague in the 67 semi final 2nd leg.



    We all want us to dominate domestically & have a decent stab at Europe every season, but it’s ironic that achieving the former makes the latter more difficult – if you won’t adjust your tactics accordingly.



    I can’t really know which of all the variables at play are responsible for our comparatively lower success in Europe, but at the very least the list HAS to include our own team’s strategy & tactics. It is no coincidence that we repeatedly lose by 5 or 6 goals to zero against these teams for the first time – under the current regime.



    It used to be that we were disappointed to not make the group stage, but now it seems that we are to settle for our new level in the Europe League – a level now where we aren’t good enough either apparently. My question is how far do we have to drop before someone says “Hang on this is us, Celtic – and we’re better than that.”



    We moaned when Tony Mowbray would contantly remind us to take it on the chin after dodgy defeats, but it’s beginning to sound a bit like that when Brendan speaks after yet another European defeat.



    If the players, coaches & tactics we have are resulting in embarrassing performances and/or heavy defeats we need to address that properly & reject the Mowbray shrugging response.



    That is the manager’s job, together with his coaching staff & the CEO.



    Domestically, 10 in a row is great for tribal bragging rights – but what then? Especially if our expectaions & performances in Europe continue to drop us further down the European ladder.



    I hope as we all do, that at some point there is a collective realization within the club that we’re currently trying to shove a square peg (tactics) into a round hole (players) in Europe. Since we cannot recruit the level of player to suit this square peg we have to look at why we insist on using a square peg – despite knowing that it has failed repeatedly in the past.



    I want Brendan to remain as our manager for as long as he wants, but if our success is to mean anything, it has to involve more than winning everything domestically but being repeatedly embarrassed in Europe.



    Now let’s beat Killie on Sunday.




  18. Starry Plough,



    we are aff to Switzerland and into France to Ski Again, We’re on the slopes again,



    Grafitti says we are Majic….



    Say a little Prayer for me Dude.



    Out of control when those skis face forward.



    I’m olde noo

  19. frannyb67 on 15th February 2019 4:30 pm



    Good luck big EFE just signed with Derby HH






    Just go and do it Efe.



    Love that Man.

  20. FTW 4:31



    As ever a good comment.



    It’s mad and Radio Rental the next game against Sevco is just before Brexit.



    Why were there 2 helicopters last night @ Celtic Park?

  21. Eurpoean football gives us a break from the norm and of course i would like it if we could preform better. Eurpoean football is not easy and can be unforgiving. We move on and while we are moving on we try to get better.



    Scottish football needs a complete change of direction where skill and technique are given higher status than physical high, strength etc…. and players need protected.



    We need better pitches.



    We need to move our football to the summer months when football can actually be players in decent weather.



    The finances in scottish football have to be addressed as broadcasters are taking the piss with their deals and the spfl are to quick to accept it.



    We need to take our heads out the stand and accept change is needs not just from celtic but from the while country.




  22. starry plough,



    I’m, I Think, getting Better





    Noone knows Anything.



    I might even go to the Rezerection gig – Wan night Only.



    Hearing Dave Angel mix in Edinburgh is highly enticing. I’m Too Olde Starry P – Tell me I’m too olde to go to that Gig. Please for petes sake.

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 16