ANGE POSTECOGLOU utilised three keepers in Europe last season, but Celtic still conceded TWENTY-SEVEN goals in 14 games.
The Hoops managed to fire in 26 at the other end, but, alas, there was only disappointment in three competitions – the Champions League, Europa League and the Euro Conference.
Postecoglou watched his team claim three shut-outs – all at Parkhead – while they failed to score on only two occasions, home and away.
The Greek-Australian gaffer embarks upon the European rollercoaster again tonight when champions Real Madrid provide the opposition in the Group F opener at a sell-out arena in the east end of Glasgow.
After last season’s experiences, Postecoglou will be hoping his defenders will be up to the task of coping with the threat of Real’s multi-talented attackers.
OOPS…Vasilis Barkas misjudges the flight of a free-kick from Brazilian Evander for FC Midtjylland’s equaliser in the first leg of the Champions League qualifier at Parkhead in July last year.
Vasilis Barkas made one appearance at this level last time out and blundered badly to allow FC Midtjylland to equalise in the Champions League qualifier at Parkhead after new Bhoy Liel Abada had fired in the opener in the new manager’s first competitive game in July.
The £4.5million Greek flop played only one more game in the top side – the 3-1 league win over St Johnstone in Perth on Boxing Day – and joined Dutch outfit FC Utrecht on loan in the summer.
Scott Bain came in for the second leg in Denmark and conceded twice after Callum McGregor had put the visitors ahead.
Joe Hart arrived in a £1million three-year deal from Spurs on August 3 and went straight into the team two days later for the 4-2 victory over FK Jablonec in the first leg of the Europa League qualifier in the Czech Republic.
The 75 times-capped England international No.1 kept his place for all but one of Celtic’s remaining European adventure.
I’M IN CHARGE…Joe Hart captained Celtic in their 4-3 loss to Real Betis in Seville last September.
He claimed his first clean sheet in the 3-0 win over FK Jablonec in the return leg and he followed up with another impeccable performance against AZ Alkmaar in the 2-0 triumph in the first leg of the Europa play-off in Glasgow.
Hart conceded twice in the Netherlands – one an unfortunate own goal from Carl Starfelt – but a strike from Kyogo Furuhashi put the Hoops through in a 3-2 aggregate scoreline.
In the absence of the injured McGregor, the experienced netminder captained the club against Real Betis in Seville in the group opener and goals from Albian Ajeti and Josip Juranovic, from the penalty spot, had the visitors 2-0 up before Manuel Pellegrini’s outfit came back to lead 4-2 at one stage before Anthony Ralston nodded in a third.
ON GUARD…Joe Hart in action against Bayer Leverkusen in Celtic’s 3-2 loss in Germany last November.
In the return, with Bain in goal, Celtic hit another trio – Stephen Welsh, Ewan Henderson and David Turnbull (pen) on target – and this time there was a reward with a 3-2 victory over the Spaniards.
After losing 4-0 to Jeremie Frimpong and his Bayer Leverkusen team-mates in Glasgow, Postecoglou’s men led 2-1 by the 56th minute in the away leg in Germany through a Juranovic spot-kick and a superb effort from Filipe Jota.
With just eight minutes to go, Robert Andrich, who had scored the opener in the 16th minute, made it 2-2 and, with the clock ticking down, Hart was beaten again by Moussa Diaby to make the final score 3-2 for the home team.
Ferencváros were taken care of in Glasgow – where Hart had his third shut-out – and in the second leg in Budapest with the Hoops winning 2-0 and 3-2 respectively.
WELL SAVED…Joe Hart dives to his left to push away a drive from Bodo/Glimt’s dangerman Amahl Pellegrino in the 2-0 loss in Norway in February. Anthony Ralston is just too late to block the effort.
Celtic’s excursion in the newly-formed Conference League was short and swift with losses home and away to the Norwegians of Bodo/Glimt – 3-1 and 2-0 – to bring down the curtain on European ambitions in an eventful campaign.
It was clear, though, the Premiership title was the priority and, of course, Postecoglou and Co achieved their mission with the club’s tenth crown in 11 years.
That silverware success earned Celtic the right to a place at Europe’s top table and another odyssey kicks off against Carlo Ancelotti’s team with RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk also competing in the section.
In Neil Lennon’s last season as Hoops chief, the team conceded 21 times in nine games to bring the total in the past two years to an embarrassing 48 goals conceded in 23 games.
Here are the scorelines from the past two European campaigns – if you are of a nervous disposition, CQN recommends you look away now.
FC Midtjylland (1-1 and 1-2)
FK Jablonec (4-2 and 3-0)
AZ Alkmaar (2-0 and 1-2)
Real Betis (3-4 and 3-2)
Bayer Leverkusen (0-4 and 2-3)
Ferencváros (2-0 and 3-2)
Bodo/Glimt (1-3, 0-2)
KR Reykjavik 6-0
AC Milan (1-3 and 2-4)
Lille (2-2 and 3-2)
Sparta Prague (1-4 and 1-4)
*DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Real Madrid this evening – only in your champion CQN.