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. I demand a Public Enquiry, NOW!!!


    Huns have not had their designated penalty yet, must be a fenian in the black


    Shucks, just no fair




  2. Pukki scores again, 20 plus this season, must’ve been all that hair holding him back when at Celtic :O)

  3. Alasdair MacLean on




    Just logged in after work there and saw your post first….clicked back a page which took me to about 9AM….. couldn’t see any mineshafting posts to speak of…



    I did the something similar with the huns game …. went on a stream at the start of the second half after seeing the 0-0…. and gave up after 5 mins. Apart from being beyo d tedius football, I couldn’t stand the sight of them. Might go back if I hear Saints get a goal.

  4. This morning i am watching Schalke v Freiburg and Schalke who are clear favorites and dominating the possession stats but posing zero threat to the Freiburg goal.


    During one other tippy tappy slow moving forward foray they left themselves with no other option than a long range poor shot that sailed over.One commentator who was English said that was hopeful and the German co commentator responded hopeful or desperate?


    He then went on to say how Schalke’s purposeless possession curtailed their chance of success.



    Anyone who knows my posting history will know where i stand on this.


    The hardest part of Thursday’s defeat for me was that it met my expectation.


    A day before the game a fellow blogger was showing Valencia’s stats in La Liga and was confidently predicting a victory for Celtic.I responded by saying that although we have shown some improvement there was still vulnerabilities and lapses plus our history in Europe under Brendan and Ronnie did not support his confidence.


    Another blogger who i’ve had a few debates with on coaching and tactics then want on to say that Valencia’s synchronicity was exceptional as defense, mid and attack all moved as one.


    This brought a wry smile from me as i have often stated to much derision that we are not a complete unit due to our incredibly poor spacing with way to much space conceded in the central areas due to the lack of ability on our coaches part to properly implement our playing system.


    In my opinion our coaches have failed to recognize the importance of off the ball play and movement with their fixation on possession.


    When we lose possession our headless chicken routine is testament to such.


    And there was a video i saw yesterday from Valencia game that perfectly demonstrated our total lack of anticipation and positive thought that our possession above all mantra has created.


    I feel incredibly sad that i do not believe in our team in Europe not because of players or finance but that our coaching flaws are a liability against better tactically prepared opponents.


    Brendan and his coaching staff are good but limited and our opponents in the spl are for the most part not savvy enough to take advantage of our flawed system.


    At the seasons end if we have European ambitions then there has to be coaching changes but since our custodians seem fixated only on a Celtic/huns duopoly then i think we will be limited and expectation management to go into overdrive.





  5. Alasdair MacLean on




    Have they started walking away?



    I’m too pessimistic to get my hopes up yet.

  6. THE_HUDDLE on 16TH FEBRUARY 2019 4:21 PM



    Pukki scores again, 20 plus this season, must’ve been all that hair holding him back when at Celtic :O)



    *Fake news, fake news, he’s a dud don’t you know lol

  7. Good boost before tomorrow, huge incentive now, 3 points and League is over. Bring in Eddy, Timo, Ajer and lets get this thing finished.

  8. Pukki admitted a couple of months ago in an interview that he wasn’t fit or strong enough when he was at Celtic.

  9. Alasdair MacLean on

    Jumped bak on to the link as soon ad FT posted.



    Being positive for Sevco….new signing Kamara got man of the match.

  10. onenightinlisbon on

    Decided to punish myself by watching the Sevco game. St Johnston had the better chances and could have won. Just shows how bad the rest are that this bunch of imposters are sitting second in the league. 3 points tomorrow and the pressure will be too much on them.

  11. PeteTheBeat on 16th February 2019 4:55 pm



    Pukki admitted a couple of months ago in an interview that he wasn’t fit or strong enough when he was at Celtic.




    Like I said, the hair was holding him back. Shave that barnet and he would’ve been flying with us.



    26 goals now, will get 30 at least this season, was picked up for free, and will probably be signed for a fair few million in the summer or after. Crazy world football.

  12. Oh dear, Sleekit, Seethin Gerrard will be… Eh seethin.?



    COYBIG ? Let’s hammer home the misery and get 3 points mañana.






    D. :)

  13. Hunderbirds are Gone on

    And with 93 minutes played, the game ends in a goalless draw here at the Govan Library ?



  14. OGLACH. 4.56


    Brilliant, that’s a hurting hun.


    Well, maybe a bit of both, St Johnstone are either better than were given credit for , when we beat them, comfortably, in the 3 recent games OR!! Sevco are nowhere as good as they think they are.


    Hail Hail

  15. Win tomorrow & we win the Title. 8 points plus goals and their bubble is burst. Main thing is don;t hand them a lifeline.

  16. Wonder if all the pundits still think Sleekit Gerrard done the best business in the January windy.????????????????. Idiots one and all.



    Come on the Tic.



    D. :)

  17. Steve G will be demanding an enquiry into why 1. The Ref didn’t award Sevco at least 2 stonewall penalties 2. Why the ref didn’t send off a St Johnstone player. 3 No one likes us (Sevco)

  18. Alasdair MacLean on

    Dundee United becoming the Championship side to keep an eye on with their while new team. Ayr and Caley dropping points today …2 and 3 respectively.



    Off for a wee deek at Hunmedia :)