You could see Celtic mature during last night’s game. They were defensively solid during the first half, and Craig Gordon was assured throughout, but for the best part of an hour we scarcely tested St Johnstone.
That changed after the goal, which arrived just as St Johnstone were enjoying their best period of the game. Kris Commons didn’t have his most productive night but it was his pressing which led to the break through.
During the second half Ronny Deila replaced Commons, Stokes and the tiring Forrest with Boerrigter, Inge Berget and Kayal. Even before the home team were reduced to 10 men moments after the final substitution, Celtic were clearly in a more comfortable shape. Players were finding space which didn’t exist earlier.
Maribor made seven changes for last night’s Slovenian Super Cup Final, which they won comfortably against opponents who are pointless in the league after four games. Celtic’s scouts are unlikely to have learned too much useful information ahead of next weeks’ game.
What is clear about Maribor is their aerial threat. Five of their 12 goals this season have been headers, which may influence Ronny’s team selection. They also break quickly down the flanks, so maybe a 4-5-1, offering protection to our full backs, is the way to go. Hopefully we’ve learned we’re not quite ready for 4-3-3 away from home in Europe.
The Slovenian media are dismissive of Celtic’s chances, encouraged, it seems, but continuing celebrations from Maribor that they pulled an “easy” draw. I suspect they’ve yet to see the Celtic who will take the field on Wednesday.
Fancy winning a pair of tickets in the padded seats of the Jock Stein Stand for flag day on Saturday – and helping Mary’s Meals? Magners have kindly offered a pair of tickets, which you can win, if you donate £1 to Mary’s Meals. You can, of course, give as much you like, but £1 is the minimum donation.
You also need to answer the question: Which team will Celtic play this Saturday, shortly after the League Flag flies? To enter, forward your MyDonate confirmation email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with your answer. Competition closes at noon tomorrow (Friday), winner will be notified by email, so check you inbox.
It’ll cost you £1, you could win premium seats to the premium event, enter here. Cheers to Magners.