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. weeminger



    I agree we cut down the ease with which Barca usually get to us.



    I think Callum got some flack for scuffing his one chance and because Neymar got so much ball in a 1:1 situation in the first half.



    I think the critics are looking at that through the wrong end of the lens. There were several very good cross field passes to find Neymar in this isolating position. The only way Callum could have influenced that would have been by dropping back further. In which case we would have lost out on his support of our rare attacks and they would have found Andre Gomes instead. They are very far from being a one track team.



    Aff into work now

  2. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on



    My point was in relation to Sinclair being injured


    I think I’m in a minority of 1 as I like McGregor and think he can bring something to the team, he is different to Biton and comes for the ball and tries to make runs



  3. Morning all



    I read a post from SFTB which struck me as being one of the more mature and reasonable postings here for some time.



    It does not seem to be catching on.



    Enjoy your weekends





  4. Abused ex players on Victoria Derbyshire show on BBC1 just now, horrific stories, very brave guys telling their stories

  5. Callum is a willing player who gives his all but is limited by his ability,as are most players who play in our league.His commitment cannot be questioned but his quality is above average only and he will not play at a bigger club than ours as a result.There’ll be no multi-million pound moves to England or Spain or Germany for Callum,no Wanyama,Van Dyke or even Ki type fees as he’s not that good.What he is,though,is an honest player with some pace and an ability to move the ball quickly and effectively on occasion,especially short passes that free up teammates into space.The problem is he only finds himself in positions to do so infrequently,and he also lacks strength which sees him lose possession,or fail to win it,too often.All in all he is a good squad player for our domestic games but lacks the overall qualities to make his mark at European level.


    This is all just my opinion of course and as long as he gets picked for our team he should,and will from me,get support.


    === === ===



    Reading back I see the qustion was asked “Is the game rigged?”Of course it is.Everything involving money is rigged.Politics,business,religion,sport:all corrupt,yet…we all partake in all or some.It might not be palatable to most but this is the truth,with religion being the most odious due to what it purports.Anybody claiming some kind of higher plane on the ‘rigged’ debate is either entirely detached from society or kidding themselves (and my old granda always said yi canny kid yirsel).


    So we need to suck it up or become self-sufficient anchorites.Or have a revolution and dismantle the fiat central banking system,but that’s never going to happen as long as we remain fear induced consumers.


    === === ===



    STARRY..If you’re about,I posted yesterday but not sure if you saw it.Just thanking you for the Quarry tip,watched all 8 epidodes in just over 2 days,excellent viewing.And the soundtrack is worth watching it for alone,sublime.Cheers mo chara,nice wan. ;))


    Anybody who hasn’t watched it I recommend looking it up asap.



    Hail! Hail!

  6. ACGR, Michael they'll be taking you away on

    Right, time to do some work instead of getting caught in the web of a random attention seeking loony.




  7. Awe_Naw_No_Annoni_Oan_Anaw_Noo on

    Dave King needs to come out and tell Rangers fans the truth one way or another at this AGM – Barry Ferguson


    Our columnist and former Gers skipper reckons the chairman owes it to the supporters to give an honest account of what’s gone, and is going on, at Ibrox.



    By Barry Ferguson 25.11.2016



    When Dave King stands up at the Rangers AGM today he owes Rangers fans just one thing: The truth.



    Don’t try to sugar coat it. Don’t think we button up the back. And, please, don’t talk about spending enormous sums of money when you’ve no intention of forking it out. Or at least, not on the football team.



    Give it to us straight and let us know exactly where the club stands because Rangers fans have been hit with so much bulls*** over these last few years that all they ask of the men in charge is the honesty and transparency that King promised them in the first place.



    If there are problem behind the scenes – and I believe that there are – then come out and tell it like it is. Let us know how difficult the situation is and be up front about how much time and money it will take to fix it. Level with us because the worst thing you can do to these supporters now is to keep them out of the loop any longer. Not if you want to keep their trust.



    I’ll be honest, I’ve met the man a few times but I can’t say I ever got to know him. He’s a deep person who gives nothing away. I remember once I tried to look at him square in the eyes and after only a few seconds started feeling frightened and dizzy.



    But I do trust him to do what’s best for Rangers because I know his heart is in the right place and I believe the majority of the Rangers fans want to feel the same way and there is absolutely nobody else



    The problem he’s got is that he hasn’t made much of an attempt to connect with the supporters. He took control 18 months ago and then disappeared back to the jungle in South Africa.



    I think the Rangers fans wanted to see more of him. To get to know him. He is our Tarzan, we see him as our comfort blanket after all the bad that had been done to our club.



    Yes I am aware that he was on the previous board that instigated our relegation but he was pre occupied with wheeling and dealing in South Africa at the time.



    But when they’ve needed to hear his voice they’ve been deafened by his silence and that, in turn, has led to a sense of disappointment and maybe even suspicion that he isn´t Tarzan and Paul Murray is not Cheetah



    So let’s get it all out there in the open today. Let’s treat one another like adults who are capable of hearing the truth and making their own decisions.



    Like any other fan I want to see the club spending three or four million on players who can really make a difference. I thought Rangers would be going for the title within the first couple of years of King’s time in charge.



    But that’s not going to happen so it’s time for everyone to be realistic about the current state of play.



    Now I believe it’s going to take between three and five years before Rangers are aye ready to mount a serious title challenge. With Celtic currently going for a sixth successive title that means there is a genuine chance of them going on to win nine, ten or eleven in a row.


    Now that’s a hard thing for the country to get it´s head around and I hope I’m wrong. I hope in three years’ time Rangers are strong enough to stop them before they get to nine and to get access to CL riches.



    But for that to happen King is going to have to dig deep into his pockets to bolster the team and I’m afraid the truth of the matter is, his money is needed elsewhere right now. If that’s the case then it’s OK. Just tell us, we’ll understand.



    Obviously, things are a lot better at the club than they were under the previous regimes. But I think Rangers fans were expecting more.



    King made a lot of big promises before he was given the keys to the castle. He talked about spending anywhere between £30m and £40m on the team and even quadrupling the wage bill in order to take the fight to Celtic on the pitch.



    By doing that he raised a lot of expectations. He painted a vision of what life would be like for Rangers if he was put in charge.



    But the reality has been a very different picture.



    I’m not having a go at him for that because I do honestly believe that he and the rest of the board are genuinely doing their very best. In fact, I’m eternally grateful to them for steadying the ship. I no longer wake up every morning wondering if this is the day that Rangers will be liquidated yet again.



    The club is back in a safe place and the fans can thank King and his board the SFA and the SPFL and Police Scotland and the SNP government for that.



    But I think they all underestimated the scale of the task. They rushed in because they wanted to stop the bleeding from the inside but they had no idea what they would find.



    The moment they walked through that door I think the reality of the problems behind the scenes slapped them in the face like a wet salmon.



    Now the truth is Rangers won’t be ready to win the league for a good few years to come and I hope the supporters will be understanding enough to give King and the board as much of their cash as they can a bit of time and patience.



    It is relatively easy these days to get loans without the need to have a good credit rating.



    But that’s why there is also a need for the chairman to give them some honesty in return.



    I’ve still got a lot of friends at the club and I’ve been hearing some horror stories about how bad things got under the previous regime.



    They tell me the stadium needs millions upon millions of pounds spent on it in order to return it to the Ibrox I always knew and loved.



    When I was a player the place was like a five star hotel. You could eat your dinner off the floor of the executive lounges. Wherever you walked there was a maintenance man in his overalls carrying a pot of paint or a screwdriver.



    We got to know them all by name because they were always around, carrying out repairs or keeping the place spick and span. They looked after Ibrox and Murray Park as they would have their own homes. They took a pride in their work because they cared so deeply about Rangers. And it showed.



    But these guys were gone the moment Craig Whyte took control. And the club has been in a state of decay behind the scenes ever since.



    I’ve also been told about the state Murray Park was in before King’s takeover. Leaks in the roof, No toilet paper, No soap, No warm water, Light bulbs that make the place look darker when switched on, Cracked and Dirty windows, skid marks on toilets due to no cleaners, No coffee machines, No vending machines, grubby walls and fences which have been blown down and left in a state of disrepair. When I was there the place was like a luxury spa.



    I’ll be honest here, I don’t think King and his men realised the true extent of the problems inside the club that Craig Whyte created in less than 12 months in charge and I believe they have been shocked by what they have found.



    I mean, I picked up the Daily Record the other day to read about Mike Ashley renting the stadium’s megastore for a pound a year and I got so angry about it that I had to stop when I was only half way through in case I battered my children. I couldn’t take in another word.



    It made me think about what has been done to the club by the very people who were supposed to be taking care of it. Ok he gave us 10m pound to stop us going under but that´s gone now. On every level, they just left the f****** place to rot and that angers me. I’m sorry about the language I never normally swear but that’s how strongly I feel about it.



    That’s the truth of the matter. And surely the time has come for a bit of honesty all round. It is what Scottish football is renowned for our honesty and dignity. It is time to return to that state. Don´t get me started on Reagan and Doncaster

  8. Ye know that if, ah come doon to your level and, post like for like


    ah’ll get the cards and you,….well, you wulny.




    I wasn’t about yesterday mate, glad you enjoyed it.



    Good clobber, good music, and a couple of hotties, what more does a man need.



    Good for me thing was revisiting my Otis Redding/Stax/Memphis catalogue.



    What a town for music.



    Off for four days now, looking for something to watch!!



    And the build up to the game on here.



    A mighty Hail Hail fae the Green Green Valley which is disconcertingly still pretty green at the end of November.



    Thon Global Warming must be a myth:)))

  10. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    Good Morning Bhoys from a very white and frosty Central Scotland.This World is a very dangerous place the revalation that many young Bhoys have been abused while trying to make there way in the game comes as no real surprise.However,it is still evil and wrong and anyone who has abused youngsters should be brought to book and put away in prison for many years the youngsters now adults will never forget the fear the horror and the pain and the wrong assumption that some how it was there fault.Bring the suspects to court give them a fair trial but if they are found guilty they should have the book thrown at them. H.H.

  11. VFR800 is now a Monster 821 on

    SETTING FREE THE BEARS FOR RES. 12 & OSCAR KNOX on 25th November 2016 8:42 am



    Well said; great post.




  12. VFR800 is now a Monster 821 on

    KEVJUNGLE on 25th November 2016 9:38 am




    So there is justice….






    Says the man who calls a Celtic player a hun; hypocrisy personified!




  13. ACGR, Michael they'll be taking you away on

    Thanks Paul67, I’d rather not have been seen in conversation with some attention seeking lunatic.



    He addressed me so I stupidly responded to his look, look, look, mammy I’m typing pish again posts.






  14. Awe_Naw



    Ha! ha!



    One of your best.



    And another bite!



    That’s a 100% record on this week’s output, I reckon!

  15. ACGR



    I think you were only airing what a few on here were thinking, well i know i have been thinking that for an age now.



    Look !!!! Look !!!!! etc ………………………………..etc !!!!




    any idea how many computers you have ruined with tea n coffee.

  17. At this time on Sunday I’ll be on a train to the big smoke to watch the Final at the Wimbledon CSC. Well I couldn’t just sit on my Tod for Brendan’s first Final, could i?



    Anyway, between now and then I’ll be making tattie scones in accordance with the instructions of CelticQuickRecipes.

  18. Awe_Naw_No_Annoni_Oan_Anaw_Noo on

    beatbhoy on 25th November 2016 10:01 am



    Not sure the Kevin Tierney ban …never got a bite —first time in 12 years …losing my touch



    Starry ,









    too late … pan was on :-)




  19. Awe_Naw_No_Annoni_Oan_Anaw_Noo on




    That´s the idea but many on here don´t read it and then I get dogs abuse for reproducing Record articles about Sevco.






    Nothing worth finding


    Is easily found


    Try as we might


    That was supposed to sound


    Very profound


    It probably sounds dry


    Just like the four tops …………………….




  20. Just so happens that on the day of there AGM Red Bull want to invest in sevco? Ahhhhhh! So that’s the squirrel today to distract from the 500lb pregnant gorilla that’s in the room, what happened, did the Dallas Cowboys deal not go through?



    Do us all a favour ffs, stop this fudging Red Bullshit.

  21. The Derry Journal.



    Scott Sinclair will miss Sunday’s Betfred Cup final with Aberdeen after sustaining an injury in the loss to Barcelona. The Celtic star limped off at half-time with a hamstring issue and will now miss a month’s worth of action. (The Sun) Red Bull to invest in Rangers? Rumours are flying around on social media that Red Bull are considering investing in Rangers.



    Read more at: http://www.derryjournal.com/sport/football/old-firm-rumour-mill-sinclair-out-for-a-month-red-bull-to-invest-in-rangers-warburton-s-january-plan-1-7697807

  22. BABASONICOS71 on 25TH NOVEMBER 2016 9:30 AM



    Interesting and topical post. It would be easier to attempt finding a sport that was not rigged in some way.



    Of the top of my head I can think of the following sports :-









    Rugby Union






    Horse Racing.


    Motor Sports






    Ice Hockey















    No doubt there will be many, many more but the jist remains ; why should football be the exception?




  23. The Battered Bunnet on

    Apropos little of local interest, the resolution to disapply pre-emption rights for Sevco shareholders has not been passed, Ashley and Easdales amongst others blocking it, meaning a couple fo things:



    1) Those who have provided loans (currently £10M and rising) cannot swap ther debt for new shares



    2) Further loans will be required to sustain the structural losses of the business/club/engine room subsidiary



    Sevco remain “a loss making business without a credit line from a bank”, limping along on the fringes of insolvency.