I was widely predicting 3-0 last night so the result didn’t come as a disappointment. Bayern could have punished us (or pretty much any team in Europe) by more, while we could have scored a deserved consolation in the second half.
It is seldom a manager will make three changes which improve the team, but Brendan Rodgers did just that last night. Tom Rogic grabbed the stage like no other Celtic player when he replaced Stuart Armstrong. Celtic’s game plan left Leigh Griffiths isolated against towering defenders. This was never a fair fight, but plays to Moussa Dembele’s strengths. The French youth international looked back to his pre-injury best.
Patrick Roberts is our most accomplished player at unlocking packed defences, but that was never on the agenda in Munich. Instead, he most often took possession acres from goal, forcing him to dart into space before being blocked by the weight of red jerseys.
The game was more suited to James Forrest, who needs space in front of him to be at his best. The winger regularly stressed the Bayern defence and created chances.
Bayern clearly identified Cristian Gamboa as Celtic’s potential weak spot. Cristian was isolated repeatedly but used his pace and agility to put in a performance few of us expected.
When was the last time we lost three cross/header combination goals? Bayern are a tall team. Celtic played with two small(er) full backs, where they would otherwise play the ubiquitous Mikel Lustig at right. A lack of height perhaps contributed to Bayern’s third, an inexcusable free header at a set piece, but we switched off at the loss of the first two goals.
We didn’t execute our normal (simple) passing game during the first half. Lots of things can contribute to players not passing the ball, rushing their passes, or, more crucially, not making themselves available for a pass.
The most obvious contributory factor was the ability of the opposition, but the problem was not as superficial as this. We didn’t pass well during the opening period, even without Bayern pressing particularly high.
Football is a game of 1000 small decisions, where to move on the field being the most common decision. Repeatedly last night I couldn’t see good options for an easy pass for the Celtic player in possession. For Celtic to play their natural game there needs to be a close proximity between players when we are in possession.
Last night we stretched the game. Sinclair, Armstrong and Brown were too far forward, often by as little as 10 yards.
Special mention to Craig Gordon, who having picked the ball out of his net three times, kept the score from reaching the epic proportions that Arsenal recently endured at the Allianz Arena.
Bayern will be confident ahead of the game at Celtic Park in two weeks, but Celtic know they can play better. I’m sure when Brendan Rodgers looks at the Champions League table, he will concede nothing yet.
Celtic Fans in Allianz Arena pic.twitter.com/EGbQbkWt6G
— Celtic Videos (@CelticVideo) October 19, 2017
OUR SECOND CQN PODCAST this week, featuring interviews with ex-Celts Alan Stubbs and Chris Sutton, previewing the big games this week against Bayern Munich and Hibs at Hampden on Saturday.
Stubbs gives an insight into Liam Henderson as a player and talks about where his career should go from here.
Speaking on behalf of BT Sport, Alan Stubbs also spoke about his regret at leaving Hibs, and looks ahead to the League Cup semi-final between two of his former clubs.