How to win against more resourceful rivals


Croatia eliminated teams currently 1 and 2 in the Fifa rankings: Brazil and Belgium.  Morocco emerged from the same group that knocked out Belgium, then despatched Spain and Portugal.  Despite Croatia and Morocco having little possession in each of these games, creating fewer chances than their opponents and having less illustrious squads, all of these results were deserved.

These two teams who made the semi-finals did all the basics well all the time.  Throughout the tournament, they were never caught up-field when the opposition broke.  They resisted the temptation to make a risky pass.  They defended their box and each ball that entered the area.  Do this and any side has a chance.

As a consequence, their players are being monitored by scouts at the richest clubs, their managers are feted as national heroes and their fans have lived through weeks with the kind of joy and excitement few sports fans get to experience.

None of this would have happened had they played like Celtic played in the Champions League.  One of them would have gone out to Belgium and the other would have been home soon thereafter.  There is no shame in playing as Croatia and Morocco have, far from it.  They have demonstrated a brilliant mastery of sport’s perennial challenge: How to win against more resourceful rivals.

It is not laudable to want to play as though you were Brazil of 1970, it’s naive.  After a few years away from the European big time and a season without a trophy, Celtic fans were happy to overlook Bodo/Glimt and finishing bottom of the weakest Champions League group we have ever entered.

But football fans can be fickle and you and I have been here long enough to know what happens next.  Ange, when in the Bernabeu, be Croatia, be Morocco.  You will never out-gun the strongest teams, but you may just out-smart them.

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  1. Your best for a while Paul 67.


    As I’ve said before.


    If you keep playing the sane way with the same players.


    You’ll get the same results

  2. CONEYBHOY on 12TH DECEMBER 2022 12:43 PM





    Hibs? Calton Hill?




    Hibs , aye . A couple of years old but still a great bit of animation .

  3. Horrific news about Three Boys losing their lives in the icy lake near Birmingham, with a Fourth boy aged just Six very ill in hospital.


    Its possible that another one or two boys MAY still be in the water, and a ” recovery” procedure is on going.


    My Heart goes out to those families at this terrible time.


    I’m not a Parent, so I can not imagine what the Parents of those youngsters are going through ?


    Absolutely heart breaking.



  4. CORRECTION to my Post earlier this morning…


    Ive received a WINTER FUEL PAYMENT of £500 from The DWP overnight into my Bank Account.


    Please have a look at your Bank Account etc, IF you may qualify for this payment ?



  5. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Well first I certainly don’t think that Morocco and Croatia play the same style.


    Morocco’s park the bus has had limited success but the way Spain played made it really easy for them. Portugal not much better.


    Against high quality European club sides we won’t win parking the bus. You might keep them out for a while but they will find a way in the end. Better to give them something to worry about at the other end.

  6. You’re right Paul and time will demonstrate that as we continue to get beat in Europe in the years ahead. Ange isn’t changing.

  7. onenightinlisbon on

    BIG JIMMY on 12TH DECEMBER 2022 1:14 PM



    Echo your sentiments 100%.



    God bless the poor families.

  8. Celtic face teams using Morocco and Croatia type tactics all the time. We won most of the time. The teams with most resources usually do.



    Who was the last team to win a major European trophy playing defensive football? How often has that happened in the modern era?



    It’ll get you so far but it’s not a sustainable model for success.



    Anyway, that aside, I had a random thought and no one around to listen to it, so CQN can have it.



    When we win our 55th and 56th titles in the coming years, will the zombies stop talking about having won ‘the 55′ as if it was anything other than a marketing tool to convince themselves of the continuity myth?



    I read a headline from an ex zombie saying he’d won the ’55’ but he hadn’t. He’d won one. The Covid one. The more remarkable fact about that season, the quiz question, the unique selling point is not ’55’, it is ‘who won the league in the pandemic, no fans in the ground season’.



    Rant ends

  9. Paul67



    ” There is no shame in playing as Croatia and Morocco have, far from it. `



    Maybe no shame but not a lot of pleasure either.


    I DO care if we win,lose or draw but I would only last another season or two as a ST holder if we played like Croatia and Morocco.


    Also, teams that adopted the style recommended by Paul for Celtic also lost in the CL. I cannot see that Celtic would enjoy a different outcome from those sides.

  10. International and Club games are completely different; especially tournament football.



    Most international teams play with pragmatism due to the lack of coaching time with the squad and also that their opponents will have 2 or 3 top danger men to worry about.



    Celtic created a lot of chances in Europe this year and if we had taken 50% of them we would probably still be in Europe.



    The big risk in our style is that there has to be a very low %age of errors .


    Ange seems to believe they are all avoidable, I’m not as optimistic.



    If we cut out 50% of them as well as the extra goals above ; what a season we would have had .



    Fine margins but if you sit back , you deserve what you get

  11. Go tell the Spartim on

    P67 has had more than a few digs at Ange, maybe because we didn’t recruit it from the filing drawer of cv’s like we have with others under a different CEO’s tenure.



    If you don’t like how we play go watch some other team. If the transfer strategy, that all the Celtic monopoly players, are so excited about, goes to plan we’re not gonna sell many players by playing turgid football.

  12. Once again, prayers requested for my dad Willie who passed away suddenly on Friday.


    He joins my mum who passed away 6 short weeks ago. After 63 years of marriage they were only apart for a wee while.



    RIP Willie Doogan

  13. Ive been impressed by the overall skill of SOFIANE BOUFAL of Morroco so far.


    He has very good trickery dribbling around the opposition, and good close control.


    Just saying like…



  14. ART OF WAR on 12TH DECEMBER 2022 2:53 PM




    Terrible news my friend.


    May Willie Rest in Peace.


    Willie is now reunited with the love of his life….God Bless them both.



  15. ART OF WAR on 12TH DECEMBER 2022 2:53 PM




    Really sorry to hear that, so hard for you and the family



    RIP Willie Doogan

  16. I love Big Ange’s style of football but there are some games in Europe where we’ve got to take the class of individuals and teams into consideration and change our tactics to suit.


    Our greatest result in the past 15 years was against the legendary Barcelona side, probably Neil Lennon’s greatest result as a manager.

  17. Our greatest result ever was in Lisbon and it’s unlikely we would have won that game had we parked the bus and played football chess with Inter.



    The real problem we face in Europe is the gulf between the quality of the teams we meet in the SPL and those we come up against in the the Champion’s League or Europa League. I can’t imagine we’ll ever get the opportunity to hone playing park-the-bus football against any side in Scotland. That leaves us with our current high-energy pressing and quick distribution attacking approach in our bread and butter matches. If we continue to play that way with real intent and purpose, we should continue to get better at it.



    The players clearly love this style of football, as do many of the fans, and, even if we continue to suffer some drubbings going forward, it can be argued that we should stick with it and see where it takes us. We have tried the other approach advocated by Paul and, aside from the very occasional outstanding result against the likes of Barcelona, it simply didn’t serve us well. Glorious attacking football for me every day of the week.

  18. P67 is correct about getting caught on the break when we are up the park.


    Both goals lost to Shaktar were the result of this.


    The really annoying thing about the loss of both goals is that we were leading at the time.

  19. ART OF WAR – my condolences.



    I am surprised by the explicitness of Paul’s article which is, without any effort to disguise, highly critical of Ange and his “naive” tactics in Europe.


    As this has come only a few days on from his gushing praise of his friend, PL, does anyone else fear we are seeing the opening shots of a new divide and conquer campaign?



    I say that while acknowledging I also would like us to be more pragmatic in Europe. I have defended my opinion on here before many times – which is there is a big tactical area that most teams adopt between all out attack and backs to the wall defence. Adding an extra midfielder in place of a wispy winger in certain games does not equate to parking the bus. Instead it provides us a chance to be harder to hit on the counter attack.



    Ange needs better players or a modification of tactics to have a chance of progress in Europe. Probably both. Because even if we had scored 1-2 goals, we were just as likely to lose 1-2 more.



    P.S. Morocco and Croatia remind me of the successful Italian teams of my youth. Incredibly hard to break down. It’s certainly not pretty. I hope France triumph.

  20. I think there are lessons to be learned from the World Cup but I’m not sure we can use to the Croatia as an example of how we could improve our results in the Champions League



    Their team is full of players we’d be more likely to face in the champions league than have on our own – a back four which includes Gvardiol who’s on his way to Chelsea for big money, a champions league winner in Lovren, a young established bundesliga left back. Their midfield is a 3 of a champions league winner, a ballon d’or winner and the best midfielder in Serie A last season. Where they aren’t so good is in the striking area, the way the farmer that led the line for them to other day played would make any manager look at more defensive tactics.



    They were able to play an old team, that had international tournament knockout experience including a World Cup final. No thinking about developing young players, no changing personnel every summer, the same quality players who’ve done it for years.



    And it is a World Cup, in neutral venues, when they havent actually beaten anyone decent. I dont think they’ve overachieved all that much, certainly not to the extent we’re hoping for.



    The truth is that this World Cup has been exciting but lacking in real quality – the good teams have fallen well short of the sort of what we see in the champions league, no suprise when you remember word class players are spread more among the teams compared to in club football where the richest can spend their way out of problems in particular positions. The coaching has been poor, if we’re talking about naivety and Brazil, the way they were set up against Croatia would have had their coach sacked on the spot in the CL. Breaking down a low block is harder if you not only have poorer players to do it, but a coach without the wit to plan for it. Spain could be be still playing against Morocco and Luis Enrique would still be have them doing the same thing if he hadn’t been sacked for their abject performances.



    I think just as good, if not better examples for Celtic came earlier in the tournament. In a game where the differential was more similar to the one between Celtic and the teams we’ll face in the CL, Saudi Arabia beat Argentina by playing a high line and pressing high throughout the game. Japan did the same against Spain, Germany and Croatia where they drew. South Koreas vital win against Spain shared the same characteristics – high press, high energy, as much running as you can manage.



    Morocco have shown whats possible by employing ultra defensive tactics from the start of the game but its not the only way to get results against teams that are better, sometimes much better than you.




  21. DENIABHOY on 12TH DECEMBER 2022 4:28 PM



    As this has come only a few days on from his gushing praise of his friend, PL, does anyone else fear we are seeing the opening shots of a new divide and conquer campaign?



    I certainly dont, he’s not saying anything he hasnt been saying since we got gubbed by Bodo/Glimt over two legs

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