Concentration at cross balls again but knock out round on merit


We sacrificed Scott Sinclair at half-time to pack central mid, but this left Kieran Tierney covering two men at the opening goal, meaning Salzburg had time to deliver a cross.  A consequence of this is that Celtic had an extra man in the middle, to help the already surplus defender count.  No Salzburg player should have gotten near the cross ball.

Olivier Ntcham was lost in no man’s land, not helping Kieran Tierney and nowhere near a Salzburg player.  Think back to the Gold Standard of Celtic packing a defence, Barcelona 2012.  Just as we did in the second half last night, we sacrificed space on the wings, allowing the opposition possession there, but  everyone in the box knew their job and stuck to it – and that was a defence with Kelvin Wilson, Efe Ambrose and Adam Matthews playing out of position on the left.

Losing the first goal due to a lack of concentration when a cross came into the box with a surplus of defenders in position, was the same trait that saw us leave the Champions League in August.  I’m more inclined to forgive Craig Gordon’s lapse at the second goal – a freak mistake that will not be repeated – than shrug off the fact that we switch off at crosses at a rate not known under Efe Ambrose and Kelvin Wilson, two defenders who would not get near this team!

Salzburg were superb; the significantly better team.  In these circumstances, we have to make life difficult for them.  Try to ensure that if they get a goal, they have to do something exceptional to earn it.  Had we been at our best and done this, we would have left with the point we would have needed, if unanticipated events did not take place elsewhere.

If I’m getting everything off my chest at once: missing three consecutive penalties!  Really?  Practice, practice, practice.

The uptick in our threat level increased when Filip Benkovic was moved forward into a striker’s position.  We struggled to get the ball forward before this, it was just not sticking to Odsonne Edouard.  Odsonne is playing the role Dembele fulfilled before his flounce, but he is a different player to Moussa.  I don’t think he will flourish in a solitary role with his back to goal.

So much of our transformation in recent weeks has been down to the impact of Ryan Christie.  If he is out for an extended period, which looks likely, this will have a negative impact.  The return of Kristoffer (Alfredo) Ajer was welcome, although our resident Norwegian must have hoped for an easier game to feel his way back into.

The outstanding player in a Celtic shirt was James Forrest, he was the only player who could live with Salzburg’s speed of thought, never mind speed of foot.  We think of Kieran Tierney as our MVP, but James is the one opposition scouts will leave talking about.

And what of Rosenborg?  At Celtic Park they did what we should have done last night: stick to task, don’t make mistakes and hope for a break, which almost got them a point.  I was surprised they came back from a goal down in Leipzig, but, without seeing the game, I am sure they deployed the same game plan there as in Glasgow.

Nine points is a fabulous return from that group.  Eliminating Leipzig, a team who reached the quarterfinals of this tournament last season, knocking out Zenit and Napoli, before losing to eventual finalists, Marseille, is an exceptional achievement.

We got the break when we needed it, but we earned the right to be waiting on the break for performances across the six games.  Napoleon (translated) said, “I’d rather have lucky generals than good ones.”  He should have added, “But don’t talk about luck if you win having battled on all fronts for weeks.”  We are into the knock out rounds on merit.

Bring on the Hibernians.

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  1. One thing about last night’s performance is that is was so bad we can rule out a lack of talent.


    It was cartoon level that if played for laughs HB would have been proud off never mind WB or WD.


    We were the team that could not pass straight, shoot straight or run straight.



    Huge job required to get the squad ready to play in such a big EU game.


    We need to move beyond being flat track SPL bullies.


    RBS are well ahead in their league but still had the attitude to be competitive in EU.



    I fear that we do not have enough leadership or experience in the squad.


    One of the issues of the buy young / sell dear business model.

  2. MADMITCH on 14TH DECEMBER 2018 12:18 PM


    ‘One thing about last night’s performance is that is was so bad we can rule out a lack of talent.’






    It was a poor performance, but if it hadn’t been for two ‘freak’ incidents (Ajer’s miss and Gordon’s madcap attempt at a clearance) Celtic would have won 2-1.

  3. traditionalist88 on

    Can we finally put the folly of resting players to bed (pun intended)? Your best players, in great form and who are itching to play, should not be left on the bench for important league games.



    Hardly reaped the benefits with that performance last night, did we.



    Now we have a run of games most probably without Christie and Griffiths, but pick our strongest team on the day and you will know you have given it your best chance to win.



    We face a tricky series of league matches without a couple of important players and it’d have been great to go into these games with a bigger points cushion, which we would have been much more likely to have achieved if we’d picked our strongest sides at some of the venues we’ve dropped points (3 away wins out of 8).



    Its far from the first time a club has rested players with an upcoming fixture in mind only to end up making an @rse of both games. Of course we acknowledge that Salzburg are an excellent side but there were so many unforced errors and misplaced passes on our side that had nothing to do with them. A careless and nervous performance when we are capable of so much more.



    So lets not over think team selection. Select the best footballers in our biggest games AND the most important competition we enter, our domestic league(without which there is no Champions League). Get it won then rest whoever we like.



    Resting before the job is done and selecting a team based on the fear of certain players getting injured is not befitting a club like Celtic.



    Take them all on with our best 11 and see where we go.




  4. We — manager / squad / support — had the Fear last night.


    Full on, no holds barred, shameless feart — we were scared of their team bus.


    We must now have a new corporate sponsor — big in wallpaper — Timorous Beasties.



    Our play was pathetic — over coached and under motivated.


    Shows how much work needs to be done.

  5. Trolls trolls trolls…………………………………



    Loggin’ off.



    Oh and well done the Celtic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Would need to see the goal again, but it looked like the cross came in from an area that Christie would have been covering, Simunovic ball watching, Ajer tried to make up the ground but just missed out. Could he have shouted to Jozo?


    Agree about Odsonne, but if he can’t play that role then we shouldn’t be playing him in that way. With less of the ball we should be in a more compact shape, counter-attacking with the pace we have got.


    Absolutely we are through on merit. Rosenborg’s draw in Leipzig proved they are no mugs and that it was a really tough group.


    The average league position of our opponents is second, compared with 11th for the Scottish club who failed to qualify.


    Improvements needed for the next round though.

  7. thomthethim for Oscar OK on

    Salzburg did to us what we do to most teams domestically.







    They played at a pace and intensity that took us out of our comfort zone.







    We didn’t have that extra time on the ball that we are used to, which forced us into careless passing and losing possession.





    Cap doffed to a superior and fitter team.

  8. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    To the anti Celtic MSM:


    If Leipzig had won last night, would they have “only qualified” because Celtic lost to Salzburg?


    Did Scotland “only win” their nations league group because Israel lost in Albania?


    You must have better things to talk about – like why fifteen new players isn’t enough? Why can’t a top level coach improve players?


    We feel your pain!

  9. Paul67



    I’d agree with all of that – good summary.



    We seem to have problems playing against a diamond. But last night this was probably more to do with the 2 exceptional full backs Lainer and Ulmer. Ntcham left Tierney (who gave the ball away continuously btw) 2 on and Lainer is an excellent crosser.



    Some really poor individual performances. But I’ll wait to have the data before naming any more names!



    What I would say is that i’ll be surprised if there is a better team left in the tournament.

  10. Sinclair was absent even when on the park. The cross would gave went in even if he was ‘ there’ as he would have ran away from the player he was supposed to be marking.


    text from a very shrewd punter last night.




  12. 67 European Cup Winners on

    Celtic (SCO)


    UEFA ranking: 44


    Can play: Arsenal, Benfica, Betis, Chelsea, Dinamo Zagreb, Dynamo Kyiv, Frankfurt, Genk, Internazionale, Leverkusen, Napoli, Sevilla, Valencia, Villarreal, Zenit


    Group stage: W3 D0 L3 F6 A8


    Last season: UEFA Europa League round of 32* (lost 3-1 v Zenit)


    Previous UEFA Cup/Europa League best: runners-up (2002/03)



    Anyone but Chelsea dont want a Hun fest




  13. Yes cross balls are an issue, but it’s becoming more & more frustrating watching us stick stubbornly to Brendon’s pass from the back philosophy, no matter who we play, no matter what the opposition’s tactics are.



    It was clear after 5mins that we were outnumbered in midfield and their press was going to be very effective.



    It was excruciating to watch the first half and team selection & tactics were, not for the first time in Europe, completely inappropriate.

  14. EL @ 12.18



    They are a good team but we are potentially better.


    Unfortunately we were beyond poor and they had a good plan and they worked it to death.



    ScS — time is up for 3 months at least.


    The poorest wing performance I have witnessed since DB perpetrated his fraud a few years ago.


    He is currently scared of the ball — it will be a long way back.



    Not sure what the issue is but there is a definite path to his career.


    If it is a case that he is turning it on in training but not in games then there is hope.


    If he is as bad at training as he is now on the park then it will need something special to turn it round.



    RC — He needs time to learn the last third of his game.


    CMcG — Has made strides with the ball at his feet but he is not good enough for the other half of the game.


    TR — If it is an injury then it needs fixed, if it is attitude then he needs to be dropped. Something not right.

  15. The most depressing thing about last night and our other poor performances is how bad we are at the basics.



    Throw in — the set up can be taught.


    We just don’t seem to want to get involved.


    Very lazy attitude.



    Penalties — we are shocking.


    No purpose, no confidence, no swagger.


    Just hit and hope.



    Corners and free kicks — we seem to be going through the motions at 90% of them.


    We have no desire or urgency to make the most of every opportunity.



    Finally the Grauniad stats suggest we committed one foul last night.


    Cannot be true surely we wanted it more than that.



    Conversely how many times did they leave one of our players in a heep?

  16. traditionalist88 on

    YNBNIAR on 14TH DECEMBER 2018 1:20 PM



    Played right into their hands. To compound the issue our midfielders, on several occasions throughout the game, made unforced errors to gift possession back to Salzburg.




  17. !!BADA BING!! on 14TH DECEMBER 2018 1:08 PM


    Hope the muppet who hit the guy with the coin gets caught….





    And also the clowns who set off the flares.

  18. MadMitch on 14th December 2018 1:22 pm



    RC — He needs time to learn the last third of his game.



    Everyone can improve but he has been terrific box to box –





    CMcG — Has made strides with the ball at his feet but he is not good enough for the other half of the game.



    Sorry but that’s lazy thinking and untrue –

  19. It’s the usual post mortem after a European defeat. As I said last night, playing against better players exposes each and every weakness we have.



    Nothing different or new happened last night. Those are the same mistakes we have made before and will again. In life and in sport mistakes are made when pressure is applied. We could not live with their pressing and work rate, never mind their quality.



    There is a limit to what our players can achieve. That threshold was passed last night. We need to accept it and move on to concentrate on Sunday. If we wish to compete at that level in the future we need to procure and develop better players.

  20. 50 shades of green on

    Awe ffs is he back.



    Now were did I put that cream for my mad itch….



    There it is the off button

  21. CBN @ 1.33



    RC is a very good player who is developing at a rate of knots.


    What he is good at he is very good — other parts of the game need work.


    Defensive positioning and decision making need work.



    He is good at what can’t be taught and weaker at what can.


    Consequently the future looks good for him.



    CMcG @ CM = Good at keeping the ball moving.


    Unfortunately he is not a DM either by attitude or physically.


    It is not lazy thinking it is my opinion based on what I have seen on the park.


    Numerical analysis — in football as in life in general — is a good starting point but it does not tell the whole story.



    Please remember that at its worst it is monkey management for lazy decision makers.



    When RBS had the ball they were pulling him about as if they had a piece of string attached.


    Some of this came from the two in front of him being weak defensively on this occasion but his subsequent actions were poor.



    The base element of last night’s terrible performance was that we played with no confidence, we played as if we were running over eggshells and we were in full “rabbits in the headlamps” mode with no leadership and no direction.



    Up against a high press — you pass through not around.


    Guess what we did 98% of the time — out from the back and then side to side.


    Where we tried to be different it was two passes to KT in rapidly reducing space and he puts in a long diagonal to a CF who is still learning the hold up side of his position.



    Not great.


    We played with 10 men in the first half and two of those were still honking.



    RBS are a team we should be able to beat.


    If they had played in maroon and were based in Auld Reekie we would have beaten them last night.

  22. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Hi all.



    Appreciate Madmitch may have a predilection towards a glass half empty disposition but I am inclined to agree with much of what he says.



    Very good article Paul but, WADR, I think you missed a bit.



    You don’t need to have a philosophy in order to have a purpose.




  23. bada bing



    fast forward ray donovan saw the scarf behind the bar, good eyes.



    salzburg are a very good team, we dont play teams like them enough.



    they have a few players they paid a lot of money for and some very inexpensive a good blend.



    would like to see their wage structure.

  24. The Rosenborg goal has made us about £4 mil ,2mil for qualifying for the next round,and 2mil for a home gate,hopefully we can get a couple in next month,a striker is a priority……….

  25. David17


    Agree with most of what you wrote. Sad thing is that we are stuck in this backwater that is Scotland where there is little money, or interest for that matter elsewhere. Problem is, how do we improve if we play the same crap teams in Scotland week in week out exactly. Second, how do we attract players of quality to come and play here, when the money is crap, no opposition to speak of apart from the odd European night which sadly is usually short lived.


    We have to rely on then, young overseas talent, keep them for a couple of years and sell on for big bucks, it’s the only option as I see it apart from joining some form of Atlantic/Super League.


    As far as the board goes, money making is the bee all and end all.




  26. Bit of a quiet depressing place this today.



    Wouldnt have thought we made it out of a very tough Europa League group last night

  27. Celtic star Ryan Christie HASN’T broken his ankle but midfielder faces anxious wait on further scans for ligament damage. SunSport understands a relieved Ladbrokes November player of the month Christie – given a new long term deal by boss Brendan Rodgers last month – learned immediate X-rays showed no signs of an ankle fracture which had been one of the original concerns.

  28. Sorry, off topic , I know, but I have to get this off my chest.


    Does our government have no self respect at all, grovelling to those bastards in Europe, for goodness sake, have we lost all self respect. Tell the to foxtrot oscar, and go for a no deal brexit , otherwise we will be at their beck and call for ever and a day. We are Britain, not some little backwater , does my head in, really does.


    Cars have been a huge part of my life, from owning, racing and rallying, i love cars. Now look at our car industry here in the UK. No Triumph, Riley, Standard, Rover, Morris , the list is endless. Apart from a few bespoke brands like TVR and Aston Martin we don’t have a car industry. Successive governments have deprived our car industry for decades ( other European countries give backing to theirs) , now we give billions of handouts to Japanese and Ameriacn car giants to build their bloody cars here, a disgrace.


    Napoleon was right, shopkeepers indeed.


    That’s better.




  29. Bhoylo83



    The MSSM tells Celtic fans that Celtic are not very good, really.


    Celtic fans tell other Celtic fans that Celtic are not very good, really.


    I suppose that is just a coincidence.



  30. traditionalist88 on

    BHOYLO83 on 14TH DECEMBER 2018 2:27 PM



    Some posters retain the ability to be happy about one aspect of last night (qualification) ,whilst having some major concerns about other aspects of the night (performance) which will ultimately restrict our ability to go any further if not rectified asap.




  31. mike in toronto on

    Tim Horton



    I posted this a few weeks ago. It may be of interest to you.





    The 2018 Sport Salary Survey…breaks down what teams pay … not just football, but most top sports leagues …



    not surprisingly, EPL wages are the hightest (by almost 30%)…



    surprisngly, (to me at least), for football, Athletico Madrid have the hisest average wage.



    As for your question, P. 10 – austria and Scotland pay on average about the same wages



    on a team by team basis, RBL average 1.5 million pounds salary per year, while Celtic are 1.1 million… may have overlooked it, but dind’t see Salszburg

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