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. mike in toronto on

    Auldheid…. I think we might have each other’s addresses already … but, if I cant find it, I’ll drop a note to P67.




  2. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on



    I think the Barrowlands might be a better option ☘️☘️

  3. jude2005 is Neil Lennon \o/ on

    I see JUdith will be turning on the Christmas lights on Byers Rd Sunday. That should boost the C Q N lurker.






  4. Bognorbhoy



    I’ll definitely brie going to that!






    It’d be good to see him somewhere new as well.

  5. Evening





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



    Big Peat of Islay at 8.09.





    Well that is

  6. Continued



    Well that is a delightful generalisation




    Keep up the good work.






  7. Saint Stivs says SACK THE BOARD on

    bring the bhoy home – why not.







    Meanwhile, Jordan could be set to follow his dad out the door with IFK Gothenburg and one of Henrik’s former clubs, Feyenoord, said to be interested in the 19-year-old Swedish international.

  8. BT






    You mean BR?



    Can’t get moderated for ‘arse’, surely?



    Fits the happy combination of -ard, Demba Ba, and disarster, in a modified Kop favourite!



    Our host used it on here one morning, I seem to recall!

  9. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on



    Aye BR obviously, I blame the solpadol/ tramadol mixture..

  10. Saint Stivs says SACK THE BOARD on

    JUDE2005 IS NEIL LENNON \O/ on 24TH NOVEMBER 2016 8:13 PM


    I see JUdith will be turning on the Christmas lights on Byers Rd Sunday. That should boost the C Q N lurker.






    byers brings big baubles brightness before brisk breezy barometer breaks baldes breakfast broadcast.




  11. Evening Timland



    shameful repost now the focus is on the Aberdeen game on Sunday.



    Still looking for a spare ticket.




  12. BT



    Wish I’d asked earlier!



    Kept trying to remember if Bobby Murdoch had gone up on his neck in some game down there!




    I have some more bad news from Galway this morning.


    Unfortunately due to the illness of Davy Carton who


    recently underwent a minor throat operation, The


    Saw Doctors will not be able to play their UK Tour


    which was due to start in Cardiff next Monday.


    The Saw Doctors have rescheduled thirteen of


    the UK Tour dates to April 2017 – the tour will now


    start in Newcastle on Friday April 14 with the two


    London shows fixed for Friday April 21 and


    Saturday April 22 and the Manchester Apollo gig


    now taking place on Saturday April 29.


    The two Glasgow concerts by The Saw Doctors


    have been rescheduled for Friday June 2 and


    Saturday June 3. The full list of tour dates in


    April / June are listed below.



    “The Saw Doctors regret that they will not be able to


    play for all our loyal and faithful UK fans this Winter.


    Davy Carton needs some more time to recuperate


    and rehab his badly damaged vocal cords”


    says Leo Moran “The Saw Doctors would like to


    apologise for any inconvenience caused due to


    the cancellation of the UK Tour”



    Tickets purchased for all the UK shows by The Saw


    Doctors in November / December will be valid for the


    same city / venue gigs in April and in early June 2017.


    The Friday night London tickets in December will be valid


    for the Friday night gig in April in London and similarly with


    the Saturday tickets swap in London. The Glasgow Friday


    night tickets in December will be valid for Friday June 2nd


    and similarly with the Saturday Glasgow tickets swap.



    Tickets for the Wolverhampton gig will be valid for the


    Birmingham Institute gig on Sunday 30 April – the


    Wolverhampton Wulfrun is unavailable in April 2017


    due to repairs.



    A full refund is available from the point of purchase if the


    rescheduled dates in 2017 do not suit ticket holders.



    Amanda McGrath

  14. GuyFawkesaforeverhero on

    The prevalent preoccupation of European football after Christmas is just another modern media obsession I don’t respect. Go figure.



    Young supporters who attach significance to what football fans watch now should understand that it’s an old sporting standard welded to current television desperation.



    Back in the day (yes I get it) success for teams who were still in European competition at the end of the year meant that those lucky few were quarter-finalists. European Cup and European Cup-Winner’s Cup contestants played three rounds during September, October and November; Fair Cities/UEFA Cup contestants played a fourth round during December. Happy days for all teams still standing thereafter.



    My team, Celtic, have played twelve games in European competition this season, six at Celtic Park. My seat was occupied every time. Not always by me but we try to pass the baton on.



    Enjoyed it Celtic, thanks.

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



    I’m sure that the current Pope might take issue with that.

  16. Archbishop Oscar Romero, too.



    Though he was Central America.



    Must get better the farther north you go.



    Oh, wait a minute!

  17. mike in toronto on

    Beatbhoy @9:45



    “Must get better the farther north you go”.



    As a Canadian (north of America), from Scottish (north of England) and Donegal (north end of Ireland) roots, I would have to agree with that sentiment :)

  18. Beatboy re Saw Doctors



    Thats a shame, had an overnight in town booked around their Saturday gig.







    The Latins brought endemic corruption to Latin America.



    And Catholicism.



    *don’t think the pork and cheese are Latins

  20. Beatbhoy,



    MY initial reaction was ‘at least you were thinking about me’, but now I’m thinking, ‘does this mean he thinks I’m worse than Donald Trump!?




  21. Mike



    Come on, son!



    Millions of depressed Anericans have been consoling themselves by thinking ‘At least it isn’t Mike in Toronto!”

  22. awe naw ….



    great video with the big yin….



    love chicago … great city…. you can do an architectural tour on a boat through the city … lots of mies van der rohe stuff …. great food, great music …

  23. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    TONTINE TIM on 24TH NOVEMBER 2016 10:07 PM



    Your rhyming slang sometimes evades.



    “pork and cheese ”


    Portuguese ?



    If so , they are.


    My Portuguese mate refers to the Spain as their ” big brother.”



    Anyway , Spanish , Portuguese and ,to a lesser extent in Argentina , Italian.

  24. Beatbhoy … HA!!! okay … that made me laugh!



    I got in trouble from another poster last night for (i) being a board hater,and (ii) posting too many non-football related posts ….



    you guys are going to get me in trouble again! If I get in trouble again, I’m blaming you!



    ‘A big poster did it, and ran away!’