Celtic fall at altar of tactical purity


Despite a 5-1 hammering, there were several good and a few excellent performances in black last night.  Carl Starfelt will be as stiff as a board today after his first outing in two months and only his third start since May.   He looked every inch a Champions League defender.  Evidence continued to pour of Matt O’Riley that he is a superstar in the making.

David Turnbull shone after coming on as one of four Celtic substitutions made just after the hour.  Real defenders found another Celtic sub, Jota, unplayable.  The Portuguese crafted a break from which he won a free kick with the deftest of skill.  Then he executed the kick with pinpoint precision.  He gave the thousands of Celtic fans who made the trip to the Spanish capital a goal to celebrate in one of football’s great cathedrals.  Pity is was all for nowt.

The two Real penalties were unlucky handballs.  A slip by Moritz Jenz saw him fall onto the ball, O’Riley forgot to tuck his arms in when rushing back into the box.  Let’s all try not to mention that decision at Tynecastle last month.  Whereas Modric and Rodrygo despatched their kicks with confidence, Josip Juranovic’s penalty was poor, hit at the perfect height for a keeper, not close to the post and not down the middle.  It had no more than a 50% chance of success.

Joe Hart made a mistake for Real’s fourth, coming for a low cross that he missed, and the keeper could have been smarter off his line to intercept in the move that led to the first penalty.

Celtic were admirably attack minded in the opening 5 minutes at the Bernabeu last night.  Some of you may have been encouraged; at the same stage I hoped the home team would keep the score below 7.

When I see a team from well down the Scottish Premiership table come to Celtic Park and ‘have a go’ from the start I’m always chilled.  We are only ever in trouble against the weaker sides when they camp in, deny us space to exploit and look for an opening on the break.

Real Madrid are not a counter-attacking team at home, so they may have been disorientated to find themselves playing that role so often against Celtic.  Moves for both penalties came on the counter, Celtic corner kicks resulted in Real possession inside the Celtic box within seconds.  Even late in the game, with a chasm of goals between the teams, Celtic pressed the Real defence with six players, leaving vast spaces between and behind for the home team to exploit.

After the game I read the CelticWiki on our backs-to-the-wall 0-0 draw in Barcelona that knocked the Catalans out of Europe.  The joy and pride among fans and players leapt off the page, even now.  That Celtic team had kings and journeymen, but they were genuinely viewed with trepidation throughout Europe.  ‘What the hell did we care’, if we defended deep in Barcelona?

The morning after the night before is not the time for an inquest, so let’s stick to some headline facts.  Real Madrid lost in Leipzig and required a 95th minute equaliser in Warsaw to prevent defeat to Shakhtar because both sides denied them space to exploit.

Celtic offered Real an acre of Glasgow to put on a showcase game for both sides.  Home and away, Shakhtar depended on counterattacks to get back in the contest against Celtic.  The headline reason we ended bottom of the group was an unshakable faith in tactical purity.  Neither fans nor players will remember these games fondly in years to come.  Hopefully there was learning, specifically, not to press high up the field when out of our depth.

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  1. Morning from another incredibly mild Louisville morning. Talk of a record high tomorrow.



    Such fine margins. Second penalty to them never a penalty and if we had scored ours……..



    But, but, but, but Ange cannae change tactics or defend.



    We don’t care if we win, lose or draw……..



    “The Scottish club finish bottom of their group but that is not a fair representation of how they performed, as the Glasgow side should have and could have done better across their six matches.”



    Saw most of our games, albeit it with some work distractions on occasion, and enjoyed the challenge. Was it 5 or six shots? Did we miss some luck?







    Just had lunch.



    I don’t drink coffee. Can’t stand the smell of it, never mind the taste.



    Had a glass of sugar-free Irn Bru.



    Hail Hail good sir.

  3. ‘GG on 3RD NOVEMBER 2022 12:12 PM


    I’m glad we stuck to our principles.




    Same. We looked like we could score nearly every time we attacked, but kind of knew we wouldn’t . 😣😂



    Glad we got off with only the 5 against, as in stages last night, it looked like Real would rack up a cricket score. They were awesome going forward. Some of their finishing was world class.



    Jota’s goal really cheered me up as well. Hopefully back in it next year and with players who will take the chances we create.



    Let’s get the league won quick time. That mob across the city are rank rotten. 2-0 down to a less than impressive Ajax and the BBC had the headline of ‘Ruthless Ajax punish Rangers’. 😂



    Compare and contrast to what they wrote about our results. Knobs!

  4. Real Madrid are not a counter-attacking team at home, so they may have been disorientated to find themselves playing that role so often against Celtic.






    Purely tactical. RM like the other sides in our group allowed, invited us onto them so they could exploit space on a break.



    Time after time after time. The story of our group stage.

  5. Matt O’Riley superstar??.can’t see it myself.far to slow.and his passing and tackling are woeful.midfeilder and striker should be priority signings in January

  6. bournesouprecipe on

    Handball and FIFA UEFA rule tampering is a plague on our game. Throw in, VARiation and you can see the debate every Saturday night on Match of the day, which as we know exclusively covers the richest league in the world.



    The changes to the handball rule compounded by VAR replays belie the fact


    that pinned to your body by your side, is unnatural. Away outstretched is natural not the other way round, nobody on earth plays football with arms permanently perpendicular otherwise they’d fall and land on their heads. Teams are now penalised every week for players trying to stayed balanced in the penalty box, with sometimes a 90mph football bouncing of them before they can blink.



    The literal long arm of the law has been introduced to the detriment of the game this goes beyond pundits and commentators calling it “ harsh “ and stops at plain wrong. The law was is an ass, now it’s an arm get it sorted, rewrite it, with the same overnight stroke of a pen that made it ludicrous.



    The World Cup will showcase new layers of bureaucracy gone mad in all its finest, screwing money from ordinary football supporters is a worldwide trick.

  7. Paul67,



    We’ve played pragmatic many times in Europe and taken a spanking from the inevitable gulf in quality. We’re not getting Lennyball with Ange so perfecting what we do (despite the limitations in finances and quality) is where we will be in the next few years with him at the helm.



    Let’s see how far we get.



    Season 2 Champions League will need to see an improvement though or the experiment will be under its first real test. System won;t change much but players probably will, hopefully starting with a keeper that fits coherently with the style. Hart doesn’t (and I’m a big fan)…




  8. BSR,



    I wonder what the stats are for a referee going to review the VAR and choosing to see an offence. It’s like affirmation bias kicks in.



    You just knew as she went to the telly last night it was going to be given. Also the slowing down of the play on VAR takes away all the speed and effort of the player getting out of the way.



    A shambles.




  9. Beamishismypint on

    The way we’re trying to play at ECL level is like putting an XR2 bumper sticker on a standard Ford Fiesta and trying to compete in Paris Dakar. Getting hammered regularly is very bad for our reputation. My Spanish friends commented on our naivety last night. HH.

  10. bournesouprecipe on

    Paul 67



    God bless Ange and his “ unshakable faith in tactical purity “



    He told us, and Dominic McKay ( mind him? ) during his appointment process he was going to do it, and he repeats it when we win, lose or draw.



    Get his new long term contract sorted, so we can continue to watch the best Celtic side since Seville and O’Neill.

  11. Football is/should be an entertainment sport,who would sit in Celtic Park,on a Nov/Dec afternoon watching boring boring football.


    Why have a successful plan every week then change it because you are playing a perceived better standard of opponent,


    Why show fear? What are you telling your players? We are not / will never be good enough.


    Go out there show you can compete ,believe.HH

  12. Paul 67


    I agree with everything you say but reading the room over the last few days a lot of supporters are extatically happy with the gung ho football that has been on display. It doesn’t work and it will never work. I took a photograph last night where Real had the ball in their own half. Our entire midfield were beyond 6 of the Real players. As soon as the ball went forward they had 6 v 4 on our defence. The tactics are niave at best.


    I would add however that results in the group did us no favours. Shakhtar beating Leipzig in the first game effectively put us out. You ideally look for a group where the pot 1 team beats everyone and you have them last at home and they are through. Real bumbled through the group, shedding points as they went. It didn’t help us at all. Real won’t win the Champions League this year as far as I can see.


    Final comment – pot 4 teams took 23 points out of 144 so an average of about 2.7 points. We got 2 points, that is where we are. A pot 4 team.

  13. It’s entirely on Ange. His time at Celtic will be remembered much like BR. Great to watch, successful in Scotland. Clueless in Europe.



    It’s rare P67 does such a job on a Celtic manager. Even during the absolute dirge that we were playing under Lennon, P67 refrained from such stark criticism.



    There’s a lot of frustration out there today and I fully understand it. We better just get use to it because this movie will be repeated quite a lot in the years ahead.

  14. My opinion is that we are out of Europe because we didn’t take our chances, we should’ve beat SD home and away and in the other games we might have still got beat but goals change games.



    There is a gap between us and the best but we shouldn’t let that stop us from trying



    I had to watch the game in the company of my 7 year old son who loves Real, only got near to swearing once, honest

  15. Siempre Celtic (formerly Traditionalist88) on

    Article is 100% spot on.



    All this ‘we played our football’ garbage is going to get us a double figure whopping against one of these sides one day.



    Playing right into the hands of our opponents. We are not good enough play these teams at their own game.



    We can be a little more pragmatic without having to stand accused ‘parking the bus’.



    Certainly wouldnt have beaten Barcelona in 2012 by gifting them as much space and time as they liked.




  16. Joe Hart was a wonderful signing, perhaps as much for his presence as his ability. He gets Celtic, he interacts brilliantly with the fans, he speaks well. He would have been my choice as stand-in captain. Last season he gave the defence a sense of calmness after the previous season’s calamity of errors. A big name player who has pretty much seen it all at the top level and was amongst the top handful of goalkeepers in the world at his peak (around 10 years ago).


    This season I think we can see why he couldn’t hold down a starting position in the EPL for several years. He has been at least partially at fault for several goals this season.


    In the SPFL, where he rarely has anything to do, his form does not cause much concern. But maybe this should be his last season being first choice. With Europe out of the way, it would be good to see Siegrist getting more starts.

  17. We lost five goals (2 var penalties, the second of which was ridiculous as was the booking of O’Riley) but I didn’t find myself watching through half closed fingers, as we did in the games where we sat back some years ago. The booking of Kyogo was also ridiculous. I don’t think our first lady was particularly good. We’ll never be on a level playing field with the likes of Real, unless our income stream gets to another level. Love Ange.

  18. I Was proud of our bhoys last night , we were up against a top top team and we had a go , we had chances of our own had we taken a couple it was a more respectable score line . But it is a huge failing within the team . Taking our chances we may have got results in our other ties . But Look how much we have come on since we surrendered our quest for the 10 . Yes the team can be improved no doubt about that , if the laptop loyal get there way we will see Matt and jj depart the scene mibbes aye mibbes naw but I believe players will come in and some will move on . We are watching some great football , get another title won more european nights and hopefully ange has us more up to speed for the challenge HH

  19. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Always going to be a tough game and even more so without your best defender, midfielder and forward (for most of the game).


    Said before the Leipzig game I’d have gone with Ralston at RMF and I’d have done the same again yesterday.


    Need a more clinical CF. Can’t be wasting this many chances at CL level. Preferably one that can score penalties!


    We gave it a go. A break here or there and we would comfortably finished third and maybe even had a wee run in the EL. From where we were when Ange came in and considering the mess he inherited I’d say we are doing not too badly.

  20. bournesouprecipe on




    A worldwide plague on the game, is offside and handball rule tampering. Millions of pounds of supporters money wasted on bureaucracy and new jobs for the boys.



    Throw in the ‘Hampden Eight referee ring’ that are bounced between Celtic and Sevco, and what could possibly go wrong?



    Ask Tony Watt.

  21. Beamishismypint on

    Nobody willing to mention the mediocre standard ilof refereeing last night. Some terrible decisions, especially things she couldn’t even see but whistled in favour of the hone team. Box ticking at its 2022 finest.

  22. You can’t have everything. Ange stuck to his principles because he believes in the development of the team. Those same principles bring joyful football on a weekly basis. The same Manager who delivered the 0-0 in Barcelona, and I cannot say this with enough respect, Mr O’Neill, you will be aware, modern football has passed him by as it has many other managers such as G Strachan and N Lennon. What Ange did was extremely brave and commendable.

  23. The headline reason we ended bottom of the group was an unshakable faith in tactical purity.


    Disagree Paul.


    You would be writing diff headlines if we had taken chances.


    Plenty what iffery on the tactical side



    playing gaps and playing space comes with continual champions league attendance like our fellow group members had in the previous 5 years.look first where we are then approach opponents.



    We are in a lot better place with Ange,we learned a lot,the obvious one being money differential and governance issues in how football gets paid by the masses but governed by set corruption



    We took 3 beatings,but we learned plenty,we have a capable manager who needs more support and more backing,he has a direction of travel and tactical know how,now is the time to stand firmly beside Ange,not set about narratives to reminiscent of lazy journalism.



    Build,better players,and we will get there,




  24. we don’t have the quality of player to play a more defensive game , we would get slaughtered if we tried to at this level , is either the current ange way or no way.

  25. Let’s look on the bright side: Rangers got pumped 9-1 on aggregate we only got pumped 8-1 in the CL. So all is well and we are the superior team. If you think I’m being serious then you have no ambition for the club you support.



    Ange will never learn because he thinks he knows it all. I haven’t heard a word from him about what he’s learning about management, about tactics. It’s his players that are learning, what? Mainly that they need to be more clinical in front of goals. What they are really learning is that if you go gung ho all of the time you don’t get out of the group stages and you don’t even get the consolation of Europa League, which incidentally if you believe in the experience is everything narrative would have been great experience, perhaps even positive, for our players. But Ange is an all or nothing guy (fine in the SPFL) but in Europe it’s like playing fantasy football.

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