The immediate benefit of last night’s 0-3 win away to Alashkert, is that the manager can use Wednesday’s return game as an opportunity to get squad fitness to the required level, without having to worry about qualification.
We have 180 minutes football to get ready for Rosenborg or Valur. The former are 16 league games and five months into their season. And you do not need to be reminded, Rosenborg dusted themselves down after defeat to Celtic last season to end Ajax’ interest in European football before the end of August.
Did you notice Craig Gordon seemed anchored to his six yard box, allowing space between him and the defence for long balls to be pitched into? Not sure what the plan was here but it didn’t help. There is a newness about the defensive line-up which would benefit from the keeper taking a more active role.
Odsonne Edouard and Moussa Dembele looked a real handful. Both held the ball and withstood attention from multiple opponents. James Forrest got a goal and, technically, two assists, although his contribution to the opener was a shot he will try to forget. James produced the difference between Celtic and Rosenborg a year ago, his experience at this level will be valuable in two weeks.
There will be tougher tests for Lewis Morgan but his directness impressed.