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.


Click Here for Comments >

About Author


  1. I’vehadtochangemyname



    He’s thinking inside the box.



    Haven’t read/watched the Gerrard interview, but I’m guessing Istanbul and falling on his arse.

  2. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on



    That annoys me about fans down south slagging BM



    It was Gerarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrd who fell on his behind not BM


    Not wishing to be moderated ☘️

  3. DESSYBHOY on 24TH NOVEMBER 2016 5:20 PM


    Tontine Tim




    Really I didn’t know that, I thought Feyenoord liked Celtic with the European Cup Final of 70 and recently Wim and PVH, you live and learn.



    *I was being facetious in that they both have a wee dikeplugger in common, Feyenoord as they are Dutch and deidco/sevco as they huvnae read their history.

  4. Marrakesh Express on

    Feyenoord fans are occasional visitors to the Brazen heid and have a banner up on the wall.

  5. There may be no European football into the New Year but this campaign which began in the summer and with still another game to play has been a long one. The loss to Gladbach at home, a team which probably Celtic underestimated to some extent made an extended stay in Europe a forlorn hope. If the team had played with the same passion that was evident last night and in the other games it could have been a different story. Brendan Rodgers now has a chance do some stocktaking with his squad with no European distractions to worry about.

  6. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Ref was totally inept. Can’t really blame him for the penalty as it would have been difficult for him to see Suarez cheating. But booking Lustig for getting clattered by the other cheat?


    Then Rakitic tries to get booked to miss the next game. Steals 15 yards at a free kick – ref ignores it. Wastes a minute taking the free-kick – still no booking! Eventually has to take out Forrest and finally gets booked!

  7. Saint Stivs



    Author was David Glen. Archetypal accountant. Broke cover early with tentative evidence of Armageddon, quoted on FF. Cleverly liquidated his role as the media’s go to guy on football finance and left Neil Patey with a tin brasso, a chamois and a giant armageddon turd.

  8. Awe_Naw_No_Annoni_Oan_Anaw_Noo on 24th November 2016 4:42 pm




    AULDHEID on 24TH NOVEMBER 2016 1:55 PM







    Then number one would have been proven even before res 12 was first presented without any shadow of a doubt.




    So it is number two, a situation our club cannot contemplate confirming no matter how diplomatic you are about it




    No. Feedback is they realise that the issue is not going to go away (thanks to the T Shirters) and the matter of governance which they say is important will have to be addressed,



    ” This is an important matter of governance relating to the football authorities and the Club will continue to work with its shareholders in this regard”



    I think that what has been gleaned so far from persistence will provide the opportunity to put those words into action.

  9. IamaTim







    We cannot change the past on cheating but we can have a bloody good go at making sure it is not the future.

  10. Some Feyenoord fans are occasional visitors to CP.



    Don’t think any attend games at the Victorian lavvy in Govan.




  11. mike in toronto on

    auldheid … as I have said before, I am not sure that I share your optimism, but, damn! I salute your indefatigability!

  12. Saint Stivs says SACK THE BOARD on

    Feyenoord –



    roon about 1982 , when the Greenock Shamrock was going strong, I was in the club early afternoon as we had a midweek ealry bus , was probably aberdeen.



    The club was at the front of victoria dock , and there was a dutch boat in.



    A giant dutchman (aint they all ) wandered into the club, tough looking mean looking, menancing even.


    Pulls up a chair at the wee bar, orders a drink, there was bout five of us in, all the teenagers.



    He starts telling us he is from Rotterdam, sailor, feyenoord supporter, soft spot for celtic, cos “we beat you guys” hah ha hah ha.



    we are playing pool , he asks for a game.



    jackiet comes aff. jeese oh he is a bear.



    jumper comes aff. arms like legs.



    and a big bloody king billy tattoo on his arm.



    he left after a coupple of beers and games.



    never been so happy to see the back of someone, before the real baddies from our club had turned up.

  13. Saint Stivs says SACK THE BOARD on

    a tin brasso, a chamois and a giant armageddon turd.




    brilliant prose,



    hat doffed.

  14. Auldheid


    We will see I hope so, when/if this happens the club /clubs must be united and state in unambiguous terms that cheating took place, who perpetrated this, what is to be done to redress the claims to titles by the clubs who were cheated, what is to change to ever prevent this happening again, financial recompense,the people involved in the cheating named if charges can be brought they are, and all perpetrators banned from holding any position of influence at any level in football for life. Not much to ask I think

  15. Fair play Auldheid for all of your persistence.



    Now that the PLC can’t hide behind Europe it might be time to up the ante with them, especially if they try and bluff your meeting with them?



    Duty Calls

  16. Auldheid




    We cannot change the past on cheating but we can have a bloody good go at making sure it is not the future.






    That is absolutely the most important thing!

  17. Marrakesh Express on

    My mate and I took three Barca fans into the Anchor bar at Parkhead cross before the game. They were amazed at the reception they got from the pub packed with tims. The guys Cyril, Robert and Bastian came from Lille and said Celtic Park was on their must do list and were told it was as good as Dortmund. They actually thought Sevco were still in the lower leagues, which tells you something. Good guys but it was like Allo Allo trying to converse with them.

  18. Absolutely disgusted at the antics of that ratbag Neymar last night.



    More reminiscent of Novo.



    If Xavi Hernandez was watching I think he would agree.




  19. Good evening, friends, any news on a pre-cup final gazeebo being set up for Sunday, preferably including one of those ole liquor licences?





    Right enough.


    The referee had not been briefed.


    He was so enamoured of them that they had to up the ante with every misdemeanour that he ignored.


    Except for Neymar who is no more than very talented slime ball.

  21. Me and mates Went to Feyenoord Ajax game last year with hoops on



    Made very welcome



    Taught them one’s called Ronald



    They liked that.



    : > )

  22. All sports are tainted.


    As soon as television and advertising dollars became the main source of income the game was up.


    Here i the USA in any so called sport NFL,NBA and NHL hits a crucial point in season as far as qualifying for the playoffs the refereeing changes.


    Are the refs corrupt?


    Not deliberately so but they do understand who their paymasters want advanced and referee with one eye on career enhancement.


    And it’s not the small market teams!


    Football is exactly the same so it has become even harder for the small market teams to compete.


    Fair play and ethics are for the irrelevant fools.


    A game that has zero integrity and has no relationship to sport.


    Can anyone remember a small market team getting a controversial decision in their favor in the Champions league in the last decade?


    There have been plenty for the chosen few.


    I will continue to support my team but to call football a sport is stretching the truth.

  23. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on




    Christy Moore playing Hamilton town hall next April tickets on sale tomorrow

  24. glendalystonsils on

    I thought the ref last night might as well have had a Barca top on under his yellow shirt.


    The wide eyed beaming grin on his coupon as he shook Messi’s hand at the end said it all for me. I thought he was going to ask for a signed photie and an exchange of telephone numbers.

  25. BT



    Good timing I’m just on!



    Where can I get tickets and is playing anywhere else sir?

  26. APR






    The Town House, Hamilton


    Hamilton, GB




    Christy Moore with Declan Sinnott


    Details: Christy Moore, Declan Sinnott More Info


    on sale:Fri 25/11/16










    Usher Hall


    Edinburgh, GB




    Christy Moore with Declan Sinnott


    Details: Christy Moore, Declan Sinnott More Info


    on sale:Fri 25/11/16










    Glasgow Royal Concert Hall


    Glasgow, GB




    Christy Moore with Declan Sinnott


    Details: Christy Moore, Declan Sinnott More Info


    on sale:Fri 25/11/16












    Glasgow, GB




    Christy Moore with Declan Sinnott

  27. Big Peat of Islay. Lawwell's Gravy train has left the saps at the station. on

    Got to say that complaining about refs is a hiding to nothing. We know the lie of the land so we just have to accept it and play under those conditions.



    Your South Americans have always been cheating hollow men, not a moral fibre in their body.