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. Europe is a pipe dream.


    Reality is, now it is a distraction.



    2nd leg, I’d give Bitton, Hendry, Lustig, Mikey Johnson, and a few others a run out. Let them sample the experience.



    100% focus on domestic duties now.



    I’d be tempted to bring Ajer in to the fold, replacing Boyata. We need guys with the stomach for the fight. Fully committed members. For Valencia’s 2nd goal, Boyata sauntered across. Not good enough

  2. Dave when he was Mixing on the flagship Radio 1 – he was described by Pedro Tong as Hard as Nails.




    Dinnae ken- Davie Hay Is CELTIC

  3. two bad goals last night. first was a comedy of errors and the second js was caught ball watching. imo

  4. Not too bothered about the result last night. Attempting high possession football, playing out of the back, against a La Liga team coming into form. Really?



    You couldn’t help but feel Valencia were rather relaxed and lounging around pitch, just waiting for that inevitable mistake. They would have watched endless hours of footage, and been aware of exactly when and who to tackle/press, then alternatively let us square pass around the back till we were blue in the face.



    Let’s take care of business at home, with the supporters at least enjoying a visit in the sun to Europe’s most architecturally stunning cities.



    Oh, and Boyata can still GTF.

  5. RUGGYGMAN on 15TH FEBRUARY 2019 5:22 PM



    Europe is a pipe dream.



    Reality is, now it is a distraction.






    Don’t agree with that, with a bit more tactical nous we could have dug out a draw last night. We cannot as a Club simply sit back and say lets stay ahead of the Huns and whoever else. Look at the likes of Salzburg, Alax and others who are holding their own, it can be done. We can and must aim to do better.

  6. Celtic’s goofing around in defence gave Bain the jitters and must have sent shockwaves of uncertainty which eventually spread throughout the team after the opening 20 minutes of doing reasonably well. Valencia had an iron curtain defence and had the Celtic attack in a Spanish straightjacket where penatration was virtually impossible – James Forrest probably our best player in Europe this year being a perfect example. Of course then the cute hoors caught us out badly on the break at the worst time in the match. Kieran Tierney was sorely missed and did not think Toljan teamed up well with Jamsie.



    The Spanish dominate all the European competitions and not surprised Valencia excel in defence where they have to deal with some of the most lethal attackers in World football in La Liga.



    Interesting to note that Valencia nearly went out of football recently with debts of 400 million. They are now ranked fourth in the World with debts of 285 millions. How about that for giving you sleepless nights.

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




    Agree wholeheartedly with your post.



    “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.”



    These type of comments are made after defeats such as last night. It’s an apathy and meek acceptance of the result as if it was pre-ordained and if things could never be improved or a different result expected.



    However, the same comments were made under Ronny’s tenure and look where we are now. We are very quick to set ceilings for ourselves and manages expectations. There does of course have to be a degree of realism as well!

  8. I’m still baffled as to why Boyata is getting a game over Ajer???



    Why would you trust that turncoat over the young lad who obviously has ball skills, and gives his all every game?

  9. glendalystonsils on

    I tend to agree with Chris Sutton’s views on last night’s telly. Celtic should be showing more European ambition as we are losing all the lustre we’ve built up over the years.


    This doesn’t mean spending vast sums of money or risking the financial stability we’ve built up. A start would be to look at how other clubs on similar budgets outperform us in Europe.


    To simply say let’s concentrate on domestic football and let any European ambitions slide into the gutter , I think is a shameful , defeatist attitude.


    Not talking about winning the CL , just talking about preserving a bit of a reputation.

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




    I guess you see them as you want to see them.



    BR was tactically naive again last night. We are not hard to beat in Europe. We give the ball away frequently in dangerous areas which result in situations where defenders are faced with a one-on-ones.



    We cannot approach a game against Valencia, PSG, Salzburg etc in the same manner we approach Hamilton or Kilmarnock at home.



    Brendan is the best thing that has happened to this club in recent times. He turned the ship around and has made our stock (metaphorically and literally) increase dramatically. However, it is groundhog day in Europe time and time again.

  11. Hi Paul67,



    Interesting article…



    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.



    Totally agree. It is the way we want to be playing and we are on a learning curve with this…



    I saw an interesting video compilation of Scott Bain in the sweeper role and passing the ball around against St Johnstone… it was very impressive, St Johnstone didn’t get near the ball.



    Valencia employed the same tactics and I believe the first threaded pass by Bain was intercepted. We were playing a much faster and sharper opponent and we were less effective. I believe this affected confidence and that made matters worse.



    We didn’t play with the same intensity we started with and our inexperience showed.



    Yet we must persevere with this, and with our formation also, we know when we tick, we tic and play some awesome football.



    No baby needs throwing out with the bath water. We just need to improve all aspects of our game, some aspects need greatly improved.



    Hail Hail

  12. Glendalystonsils………..have to agree with you wholeheartedly. The excitement and anticipation of European football is a highlight of the season for me and the ambition is always there to be successful and a great stage for the club to compete and long may it be so.




    Bloodletting again when we lose to a better team and posts ‘that everyone and everything connected with the club is a disgrace is so last year. The monikers never change they don’t post when we win in Scotland but as soon as we play a side that everybody and their dog, know before the game starts are better than us, the post rate goes off the radar



    *So true, I refrained from posting last night until the blog had calmed down, now in the light of the day here’s my take on it:



    Last night we played one of Europe’s top teams, they might be struggling in La Liga right now (8th) but they have some pedigree.



    We all look to Real and Barca as the top Spanish sides but Valencia is a credible 4th in all time points gained behind those two and the much despised Atlético.



    Domestically they have won la Liga 6 times, the Copa del Rey 7 and both the Supercopa de España and Copa Eva Duarte once.



    In Europe runners up twice in the Champions League, 1 Lavvy Cup, UEFA Cup and Intertoto Cup and 2 Inter Cities Fairs and UEFA Super Cups.



    They are 82 % owned by Singaporean business magnate, entrepreneur, philanthropist and investor, Oz educated Peter Lim who Forbes recently ranked as the 11th richest person in Singapore with a net worth of US$2.4 billion.



    Now we can all jump up and down about DD but he doesn’t actually own us although along with Denis O’Brien the richest native Irishman and minority Celtic shareholder can hopefully pull some strings in our favour in the business world.



    They’re PL also owns a 40% stake in Salford City F.C with former Fergie Babes holding the other 60%, and stakes in British supercar maker McLaren Automotive, Hotel Football next to Old Trafford as well as Mint Media which owns the image rights of CR7. Mibbees we can ask him for pointers re our planned hotel.



    I was at Parkheid the night we tied with the reigning Fairs City Cup holders (they would go on to retain it that season beating the hibbees and pars on the way), in our side were 3 players who would go on to win Big Cup medals and 2 others who can proudly claim to be Lisbon Lions as well as 2 other internationalists.



    Was that team was any better than the one in the Hoops tonight, IMHO it was not, the only difference then was Scottish Football was a lot more competitive with Dunfermline, Kilmarnock, Hibs, Hearts and Dundee who in this era all performed well in Europe, the latter getting to the semis of the Big Cup that season, while the year before deidco got to the final of the first Lavvy Cup losing home and away tae Fiorentina in the only 2 leg final although they did lose 5-2 at White Hart Lane (8-4 on agg) the following week on Halloween to the eventual ECWC winners, first UK side to win a European trophy.



    So if the truth be told in Europe we are just no good enough and haven’t been for many years, Seville notwithstanding, due tae the fact that Scottish fitba is scheitd and that can be attributed tae a mendacious, avarice rag and bone man who in desperation tae emulate us with the Big Cup has brought the game to its knees so much so that we struggle tae bring in decent players and managers, see the hibbees for a recent example.



    As BR says we look at players, offer good money, facilities and Euro adventures but they are not interested in coming tae play in a country with agricultural tackles, plastic pitches and hand over fist or should I say knuckle cheating.



    At the end of the day the manager, whoever that is, since Sir Bob is no longer with us figuratively or spiritually, picks the side and lays out the tactics. We win he is the Blessed BR we lose it’s the heated driveway effers fault.



    There have been many players, officials and board members who have let us down and possibly should not have been with us, but they were and no point crying over spilt milk or locking the barn door while the horse is hauf way down the Gallowgate.



    And yet we have posters on here, who probably haven’t been on since December 29 last year, salivating in our loss due tae their own personal and not so hidden agendas.



    One player in particular who is starring down south and will probably be in the EPL next season, was labeled a dud by a poster’s mates, thousands of miles continents and time zones away, the player has since admitted he was neither in the right shape or mind when he was with us.



    As one poster already said we have 7 centre halfs on our books so why sign another, or point scoring over our dearth of strikers as a result of one being incapacitated due tae a major health issue, but don’t let that get in the way of the aforesaid agenda.



    At the age I’m at now there are certain people and places that I give the proverbial body swerve tae due tae the grief they have given me through the years, if Celtic or any of their personnel did similar I widnae be on here, why are they then, are they simply hunterlopers, just perpetual moaners or mibbees holding a grudge, the latter incidentally can shorten your life.



    Roll on the sabbath and the templars and let’s put last night behind us. BTW after that game in 1962 we scored 13 goals in our next 2 League games both away from home although in true at the time Celtic fashion we lost our next game 0-1 at home tae the Doonhammers, a team who only scored 36 goals losing 75 and were spared relegation by virtue of 2 points, well done Celts.

  14. Fool Time Whistle on








    The Hands that…



    I’d hoped that it came across like that.



    I admire Brendan Rodgers as a coach and as a man.


    He has been great for Celtic & Celtic have been good for him.



    Always seems like coaching is a bit like cops & robbers.


    As one side develops an edge the other side adapts to neutralize that edge.


    This then provokes the other side to adapt their plan to overcome te opposition.


    You get the drift.



    I really can’t recall of MON, WGS or NFL went man for man against the dangerous playmakers but it seemed that Parejo had so much freedom on the field last night.



    Our plan A was neutralized & our plan B never got off the ground. We did have a wee kick when Eddie & Timo came on but once Valencia adjusted to the new set up & what the subs were doing they contained us.







    Ambition & some nous when we get into the ring with a more skilful heavyweight.




  15. CHAIRBHOY on 15TH FEBRUARY 2019 8:57 AM






    I don’t differentiate between white and non-white serial killers.



    My post was to highlight the BBC’s PC agenda. Not conspiracy, agenda.



    No alleged bad behaviour from the Celtic support to report today? ?

  16. TONTINE TIM @ 6.44



    Up to your usual high standard.



    Brendan Rodgers is naive and the internet knows best, not only that they also know the scoreline if he had had the tactical awareness they have, and he doesn’t.



    You really couldn’t make it up.



    p.s. caught your post about Bobby Craig arriving at Central Station at 4.30pm, wonder how Sir Bob Kelly would have gone down if the internet had been invented.

  17. Changed my mind about being well beaten last night….that fekn first goal was offside :O(


    ( just forget about the rest of game)

  18. Don’t think Izzy was match fir to be honest, and should not have played. Bottom line is, we made too many silly mistakes and bad decisions and we were beaten by a better team, so we have to deal with it I guess.




  19. We will face two banks of 4 sitting deep on Sunday, granted they will not be as effective on the break away as Valencia, however Sunday is a very difficult game and I hope we can win it. Lets wait and see what our plan is to break this down

  20. Fool Time Whistle on

    This is the coverage & commentator we got in the USA last night.








    Neither Sobrino nor Cheryshev were offside for the first & Cheryshev was onside for the crucial pass down the wing for the second.


    Izzy switched off for the first & Jozo was dozing for all phases of the second. He played him onside when he was the last man & he seeemed unaware that there was even any Valencia player in the box behind him.


    One of the lasting images from last night is this one of Izzy & Jozo trying to understand what’s just happened and trying to look for ways to blame each other.







  21. 15TH FEBRUARY 2019 5:22 PM


    Europe is a pipe dream.



    Reality is, now it is a distraction.




    Totally disagree. We must have ambition, however we are now losing our hard fought European heritage.



    European nights are special and frankly we need it to attract the calibre of player we all want and the finance we desire to keep moving the club forward.



    It is not realism to think we can only win domestically when our finances dwarf the opposition. We need to prove to others and possibly ourselves that we can on occasion raise our game to upset the odds.



    Ambition and aspiration mean winning at times when we are not odds on favourites.



    We can, must and will do better. All of us know we underachieved last night ; at every level bar the fans and the infrastructure.



    Starting in Valencia we must give it our best shot, no fear, no regrets , get the basics right and play to our obvious strengths and who knows what we can achieve.




  22. I don`t accept the seemingly general view that Valencia are a better side than us.


    For the first twenty minutes or so, I felt there was not much in it but we had the edge. Then , for reasons that had nothing to do with being pressurised by a better side than we play against in Scotland*, players started making uncharacteristic mistakes and Izzy began to look more and more out of place.


    Naturally enough, this caused Valencia to grow in confidence and us to do the opposite.I felt, then that if we could reach half-time level, BR would sort matters out somewhat and we would go on to, perhaps, win the game. Two poor goals, from our pesrpective, put paid to that and the difference berween the sides was exaggerated as their confidence grew further and ours diminished. In the end, I was almost relieved that it was only 0-2.


    Can we do anything over there? Unlikely but not impossible.



    *Most of our passing mistakes at this stage were made when the player on the ball had , relatively, plenty of time.




  23. Good evening, friends. Well, after last night the big games just keep on coming. But what offering to choose at 7.45 tonight between –


    Ross County v East Fife in the Irn Bru Cup semi final (BBC Alba and BT3)


    Sunderland (Til I Die) v Accrington Stanley in English League One (Sky)


    QPR v Watford in the FA (which possibly now stands for something else) Cup last 16


    Hard to know which of those games may be the least badest ;-)

  24. FTW @7:29


    One of them MIGHT have been offside for the first but it was very, very close and I do not blame the officials at all. Overall, I thought they had good games and were certainly fair.



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