Celtic attack the ball to win plaudits, if not points


Barcelona won 2-0 with a goal in each half.  The first, a sublime effort from the Sublime Master, the second a disputed penalty during Celtic’s best period of play.  The visitors forced one point-blank save from Craig Gordon, and struck the woodwork, but Celtic limited them to far fewer chances than on any previous visit since the current Celtic-Barcelona series of games began in 2004.

Attack the ball

On match day two, against Manchester City, the most striking aspect of Celtic’s play was their high pressing.  City were harried throughout.  Celtic did the same to Barcelona last night.  One, two, three and often four players arrived on the scene, high up the field, to close space and nick the ball.  This was a risky tactic but proved to be very effective (note: it didn’t work for Emilio down the left in the second half).

As a consequence, Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong regularly won possession in the midfield.  While you may have detected a drop in the level of our passing game in recent league outings, on a pristine surface last night, and under the greatest scrutiny, our passes were fast and accurate.

This high press combined with crisp passing meant we played the game a lot higher up-field against Barcelona than at any time since Larsson, Thompson and Sutton were doing their stuff.  The performance ended in defeat, so it will not be remembered as fondly as the game in 2012, but our ability to hold the ball, pass and move, was superior.

A few things to ponder:

Whatever was ‘wrong’ with Craig Gordon was fixed after the arrival of some competition.  His save from Suarez was exceptional – even better on TV replay than it looked at the game.

Jozo Simunovic and Erik Sviatchenko were unlocked by Messi once, but that aside, they didn’t miss a beat, and were always comfortable in possession.  The van Dijk-Denayer partnership has been the high water mark in modern times by which other Celtic central defensive pairings have been judged.  You’d be harsh to argue Jozo and Erik are performing below that level.

Honourable mention for Mikael Lustig too.  Neymar annoyed me with his approach to sportsmanship three years ago.  His behaviour last night, when he should have been red carded for two off-the-ball incidents, discredited his team.  It was no surprise he was substituted within minutes of the second incident.

Scott Brown bossed central midfield for parts of the game.  Stuart Armstrong’s dad probably didn’t know he had that level of performance in him.  He’s unrecognisable from the player who couldn’t get near the team last season.

In common with all of our advanced players, Tom Rogic’s opportunities to shine were fewer than our defensive players, but Barcelona pressed him more than any other Celtic player, and he came away with the ball more often than I expected.

Of the 14 Celtic players used last night, we got 45 minutes from Scott Sinclair and 90 from Moussa Dembele, neither of whom were material to our performance.  The rest were all at the club under Ronny Deila.  The transformation in Celtic, with largely the same players, is astonishing.  Store this experience away for the next time we’re underperforming and need to plan a recovery.

Kieran Tierney, Kolo Toure, Leigh Griffiths, Bir Bitton and Patrick Roberts could have easily made the starting line-up without any perceivable drop in standards.  There’s an unaccustomed depth to Celtic’s squad.

Lots going on right now with a Cup Final to look forward hard on the heels of a Champions League game but we’ll pick up on some strategic stuff tomorrow.  Also keen to get my hands on the calculated leaking of part of a store rental deal without the corresponding information.  If you attempt to drive a club into the sea, it’s financial options will leave it exposed to harsh terms.

This torchlight display on 67 minutes phenomenon is a special.  Respectful, understated and classy.  Well done.


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  1. Hot Smoked (from previous article)



    That “league cup” stuff could come from any medium of Scottish football that is mainstream, like the rags, BBC Sport etc in the build-up to the final (straw).



    The statistics come, of course, from the “organisers” of the “competition”, the SPFL, made up of its member clubs, none of which object to these ‘damned lies”, including our own, rendered by the official website as Scotland’s second most successful club.



    Unless ‘no comment’ is an objection, of course.



    You couldn’t make it up!



    Oh, wait a minute. . .

  2. The sponsorship money and advertising money makes it a rigged game, imagine a last 16 without ronaldo or messi? there would be upheaval and a replay.



    That can’t happen,




  3. The Battered Bunnet on

    Was Craig Gordon signed by Ronny, or was he signed subject to the approval of the incoming management team of the time?



    Settng aside the decision provenance of Craig’s signing, here’s last night’s starting 11 by Buyer:



    Lenny, Ronny, Ronny, Lenny



    WGS, Ronny



    Brendan, Lenny, Youth Dev






    Substitutes used:



    Youth Dev, Lenny, Ronny (loan)



    Substitutes unused


    Brendan, Brendan, Brendan, Youth Dev



    It’s worth noting perhaps, that in the two most recent seasons under Ronny, Celtic signed 23 players, of which 15 on permanent deals and 8 on loans, yet a short number of months after he left just 3 make the starting 11, and one (loan) the bench.



    It’s no wonder John Parks left the building shortly after Ronny. Ronny’s residual legacy in the playing squad is meagre.

  4. Next time I go to CQN corner, if anyone brushes against my shoulder, I will fall over and beseech Paul to issue the culprit with a yellow card. Don’t doubt me. I went to a masterclass exhibition on this topic last night and am keen to try out my newly-learned technique.



    For anything worse, like a trip, I warn you that I have been to Tam Shepherd’s and have copious supplies of blood to produce photographic evidence to ensure that you are banned from CQN sine die.

  5. VFR800 is now a Monster 821 on

    BEATBOY on 24th November 2016 1:16 pm



    If you’d bothered to read the full article it did make the point that there was a perception that questions weren’t answered.



    Do you have any suggestions for moving things forward or does that not fit the agenda?





  6. Leicester, Champions’ League debutants, as winning- most CL/European Cup team in the history of the competition ahead of Real Madrid.



    Scottish-style fitba’ rigging.

  7. Kitalba



    It hasn’t so far.



    Two possibilities exist.



    1. Everything was done according to the rules so no corruption.



    We don’t know yet if that is the case.



    2. The rules including honest submissions were not followed.



    In this case it depends on Celtic’s response.


    Yeah I’m addicted too……since I was a wee Bhoy.



    It was real different back then , the Celtic were never, ever cheated at all, ever.



    Now we’ve exposed the cheating and we’re no longer “paranoid”, it makes sense to weaken Celtic whilst we are putting the guilty to the sword., at home anyway.



    Might try and wean myself of all this success we’re having and do something different.



    What’s on at the cinema on Sunday, might come on CQN Monday with a quick review.

  9. TBB 24TH NOVEMBER 2016 1:41 PM



    To my list of qualities we should look for in a manager, the ability to spot a player that is right for Celtic was left out.



    For all his faults The Cardigan know they kind of player Rangers needed in certain positions.

  10. CQN, Cinema Quick News.



    Fantastic Beasts ( and where to find them ) was a bit of a let down.




  11. Let’s not fixate on Res 12, bold as it is, lest it all end in depressive tears.



    5 way agreement???

  12. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Proud of the performance. Energy, effort, intensity and attitude were streets ahead of the away game. Sometimes against the very best teams that just isn’t enough.


    Big fan of Rogic, but not sure if that was the game for him with his stamina issues. Would have preferred McGregor in the middle and Forrest on the right.


    Oh, and they obviously didn’t read my post yesterday about watching the blindside runs!


    City can’t get first place so they might play a weaker team. Maybe still a chance to pick up another point.


    Onwards and upwards!

  13. VFR



    You’re the word of the day man.



    Maybe you should check ‘perception’.



    It’s a fact that my simple, fair question wasn’t answered.



    As Mike in Toronto said, why invite questions on a topic which you’re not prepared to talk about?



    JPT knew the topics beforehand, so why waste everyone’s time?



    I don’t know why you seem to be taking this personally. You’re not at fault, and I already thanked both you and Hot -Smoked for your trouble.



    Mike in Toronto ended his spoof with the phrase ‘extracting the urine’.



    I’ve just been paying back in-kind, but you may have missed those posts.



    Keep up the good work.

  14. mike in toronto on

    Hrvatski Jim



    Even better…. hire a lawyer and sue the B’s!!!!






    Do that enough, gete piss pots full ofmoney, donate the money to Celtic, and we can finally afford that ball-playing central midfielder we have all been crying out for! Everyone’s happy!




  15. Big Cup Winner



    We never had the evidence back then of cheating and then it being covered up.



    We have now but we seem to be happy to let it go on unchecked.



    When we are on top football wise then the cheating matters less because it is ineffectual but when it stops us being on top then the attitude changes.



    I remember CQN in 2010. The cheating mattered then.

  16. Broony was a one man show at times last night. I cannot beleive how much his passing has improved. He is always available for a team mate. I loved how he cemented both Messi and Busquets and duly swaggered off. He ran out of steam late in the game and no wonder, it was some display.

  17. Well thats me for today.No time for the “Boycott Celtic”,because that what it boils down to,muppets.


    Boycott away.You wont be missed.

  18. 24TH NOVEMBER 2016 2:01 PM


    So if they pass the Res 12 “litmus” test there was never any game rigging?









    Depends on the litmus test. For me it would be taking steps to ensure cheating of the ilk Res12 is about then covering it up cannot happen again.

  19. TheTimReaper



    Yes, the wee genius gets ‘cemented’ plenty when defenders get the chance, but he should of course just get up and get on with it, in fact he should stay on his feet to help opponents get away with infringing the laws of the game, even those who try to kick him on a regular basis.



    Brave as well as brilliant.

  20. Didi Hamann was very fair on RTE during the game.



    Does anybody think that Gerrard announced his retirement as there was no real point in him coming to CP now that we’re out of Europe?

  21. Gobble -dee -gook.



    Celtic should call out the farce for what it is, and then we can all happily get on with it.

  22. Awe_Naw_No_Annoni_Oan_Anaw_Noo on

    I do not think it is boycotting it is cherry picking.



    CL games and finals only and thankfully I will be accommodated if a ticket is necessary for me and my mates. Thanks to our PLC.



    TV Monies cancelled after the 5 way agreement.



    I only watch on free links now




  23. Of course the game is rigged!



    If we had scored 4 goals last night we would have lost 2-1.




  24. Big Peat of Islay on 24th November 2016 1:19 am



    0-9 over two legs is an embarrassment.






    Big Peat of Islay on 24th November 2016 5:52 am



    SANDMAN on 24TH NOVEMBER 2016 3:17 AM



    Not an embarrassment to those who hold Celtic dear and have faith in the bhoys to raise their game for every higher level of challenge they face. Hang yer head.







    It was folk like you and your level of ‘character’ that allowed the mediocre years of the biscuit tin legend to go on unchallenged. You and yours almost let the huns get 10 in a row.



    Whether or not the huns cheated (and we now know they did), notwithstanding Celtic never raised their game for many years, because of people like you who think that 0-9 is NOT an Embarrassment.



    The shame is on you and your ilk who accept this as acceptable.






    Me and my ilk.



    That would be Celtic supporters NEVER embarrassed to profess to following the Hoops. And never have been.



    Because we’ve supported them through the decades of turmoil. And developed a sense of perspective.



    That’s why even if we had miraculously beaten Barca 1-0 last night, the 1-7 fantasy aggregate wouldn’t have ’embarrassed’ us.



    I leave that sort of reaction to you and your ilk, the “conservative with a small c, single malt” sort.



    You know the kind;



    The ’embarrassed.’ Nouveau-Tim. Conceited. Glory-hunting. Fannies.

  25. Sandman.



    Reading back on your early-morning post, the thought occurred to me that you’re not familiar with the expression ‘might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb’!!

  26. Auldheid


    The cheating matters to me, in my many letters to PL I have given my reasons why I no longer and will not contribute one penny piece to football in this country until our club makes its position clear on sevco, LNS other than say they were surprised ffs,5 way agreement, SFA/SPL governance, the greasy pole of promotion to positions of influence in footbal i.e sevco placemen, liquidation and what it means in a football and business sense and EBTs and the effects these had on people attending football in the late 90’s/2000 onwards who were watching a rigged game with players being paid for football without paying tax and NICs


    Suffice to say I am unimpressed by his replies and await the outcome of resolution 12 and any appeal against the EBT judgements, does anyone know if the liquidators have appealed?

  27. KITALBA on 24TH NOVEMBER 2016 1:36 PM


    And if Res 12 DROWNS??????






    If the Celtic Board fail to positively act on Res 12 then they will have failed in their duty to protect our Club and our heritage and they will not survive the fallout.



    The evidence is there. I don’t see Res 12 going away until justice has been seen to be done

  28. On the field cheating rears its head again.



    Posted a few months ago, that only foul should be deliberate handball.


    That would sort out the chancers who ‘feeling contact’ find it necessary to roll about dying, and then be the recipients of a Lourdes like cure when a foul is awarded.


    At the drop of a hat, it would eliminate layers of cheating within the game.