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. Encouraging to see Brendan say we need two strikers in on January.


    I would be happy with a loan deal for Zlatan or Rooney who have both expressed affection for our club previously. Another one in on a permanent deal .


    This would ease the burden on fast Eddy and create much needed competition for places up front . It would give us the option of playing two strikers which Brendan has done on occasions.




  2. Good morning CQN from a freezing Garngad






    Team for today anyone???



    Here’s my thoughts





    Ajer. Simo. Benko


    JF. ON Broonie. KT


    Cal Mc. Rogic








    D. :)

  3. 50 shades of green on

    Morning Tims.



    Matchday again, a nice wee 4 v3 win for the Celtic today ?.




    It beggars belief that you can be called a beggar on here for asking and paying for tickets on a Celtic forum , I thought at first it was a wind up between friends but apparently not.



    Good Luck to the 2 George’s in their hunt.




  4. 50 shades of green on

    Hope Brendan does go 3421 but I have my doubts.






    The kick out Keeper.



    Gamboa,the 2 Balkan guys ,KT.



    Ollie n Broonie.



    Jamsie, cal mac, Sinky.






    Although if Brendan wants to swap Ollie and CalMac around I would be happy with that.




  5. morning bhoys from a chilly Cheshire,. how about giving sinky a rest ,and put lewis morgan on ,see how he does.hh.

  6. prestonpans bhoys on

    50 @8:56


    Yeah I thought it was a windup too. I think he’s thinking that the tickets are given free with no money exchange. That may be true, I’ve been on the HTS for years and if I couldn’t make it would broadcast on here. Get their address and post it to them but that was paper ticket days.

  7. Good morning, friends.from a dry and bright East Kilbride.


    I hope that Brendan, as far as injuries allow, sticks with the recent preferred line up and style of play. If Lustig doesn’t make it I’d prefer trying Ralston rather than Gamboa. Replacing Christie is the more difficult one, as I don’t think we have a like for like swap. I think today will be the hardest of our 5 remaining games in December. I’d be overjoyed for us to pick up 13 out of the 15 points available.

  8. TAL


    Plead with the lassie to round it up to £17.


    She sympathised, she is a good Tim. ?????

  9. 50 shades of green on



    50 @8:56





    Yeah I thought it was a windup too. I think he’s thinking that the tickets are given free with no money exchange. That may be true, I’ve been on the HTS for years and if I couldn’t make it would broadcast on here. Get their address and post it to them but that was paper ticket days..






    If I was offering my season ticket to someone I wouldn’t be looking for any payment, however if I had purchased an away ticket all I would be asking was the cost, and I imagine its the same for most fans on here. And I’m pretty sure just about anyone’s first question would be how much mate?



    Nice to be nice, still cant believe that folk are being slagged for asking.




  10. DD 9.43am



    Ordered a wee takeaway last night £16.40 thank goodness we didn’t get 3 popadoms or it would have been 50p dearer :-)



    Enjoy your day, after a “doing” in Europe Brendan’s bhoys usually give us a terrific performance… think normal service will be resumed

  11. TAL


    Them Embra Hibees are wide as The Clyde.


    Hope we stuff them in their Leith midden today. Approaching Linlithgow. Hope you are well Philbhoy. Will forward your good regards to WITS in half an hour.



  12. COYBIG,



    To the guys going to the game , stay safe. In the past I think the greatest hassle and exchange of ” presents” was always Hibs games.




  13. Big Georges Fan Club - Hail, Hail, Wee Oscar on

    Right – off we go!!! Come on the Hoops :-))





    BGFC and Wee BGFC

  14. Greenpinata


    Have had a few scraps wi Hibees in the past.


    Hoping for a peaceful Sabbath in Leith today and a Celtic victory ??????

  15. DD,



    I’ll drink to that. Peace and victory.


    No European hangover please. Let the feelgood factor commence.



    HH to all.

  16. Chatting to 4 Swedes on train to Embra. They have Hibs end tickets, but are here supporting Celtic. Henrik Larsson the reason they support Celtic.



  17. Today’s starting line up ……


    Gordon; Ajer, Benkovic, Simunovic, Izaguirre ; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest, McGregor Sinclair; Edouard.


    Subs: Bain, Hendry, Morgan, Hayes, Mulumbu, Johnston, Ralston


  18. In such a short time how things change. From murrayfield break through to now looking at a line up without Ryan Christie and thinking all ready how we will miss him.



    Heart goes out to the bhoy.



    That bench. Bare bones Celtic.