When they dispensed with Unai Emeri last weekend, Spartak Moscow brought to an end an experiment to bring sophistication to their team. New caretaker manager, Valeriy Karpin, was manager immediately before Emeri, was also the man who appointed Emeri and stood over him as general manager of the club since moving from the dugout in the summer.
Karpin relies more on his strong, authoritative, personality than tactical innovation, which is likely to mean we face a more disciplined team in Glasgow next week that we faced in Moscow – there will be no brothel at the back.
My main concern is that the Kilmarnock/St Johnstone/Inverness tactics of defending solidly and taking their chances when going forward is perfectly suited for Karpin’s Spartak. Against Benfica and Barcelona at home, Neil Lennon played it tight and incredibly tight respectively, which proved to be excellent decisions. He has a huge call to make against Spartak, playing an adventurous game could leave us exposed.
This result is not to be taken for granted.
It was some comfort to see Celtic back on form last night, especially down the flanks, which were crucial in Moscow and could prove to be so again next week. Hopefully the knocks and strains which have hampered the squad in recent weeks are beginning to fade ahead of our Christmas Cup Final.
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