Here is a prediction for you, Wednesday’s Champions League game at Celtic Park will not end with 22 players on the field. Spartak and Celtic are both enduring awful form at the moment but with different characteristics. The accusation against Celtic (valid or otherwise) is that they have failed to apply themselves sufficiently to overcome opponents. Spartak, on the other hand, stand accused of indiscipline.
Zenit drove the proverbial horse and cart through their midfield on Friday night. Two goals were conceded to players who carried the ball to the edge of the area and shot unchallenged, but Spartak went down running, kicking, heading, kicking and kicking. Their failure is clearly not a lack of desire. Celtic can use this indiscipline to their advantage. Know to expect late or illegal challenges but don’t rise to the bait.
An hour into the corresponding game in Moscow Spartak were 2-1 ahead having lost 3-2 to two late goals in the Camp Nou in the previous game. At that point Spartak were in the box seat to qualify for the knockout stage. A professional foul on Gary Hooper destroyed that position as they were reduced to 10 men and Celtic thundered back to win the game. One momentary lapse in discipline on Wednesday night could cost either team.
The loss of two goals through the middle on Friday will hopefully give interim coach, Valery Karpin, cause for confusion. Celtic destroyed Spartak on the wings in Moscow, something we would expect them to tactically adjust for on Wednesday, but this recent loss might have them pondering which defensive frailty to concentrate on.
Aiden McGeady made his first team return as a second half substitute after a six week injury lay off. He is a player who will be as much at home as any of the rest of us on Wednesday so I’d prefer he missed out on this occasion.[calameo code=00039017193b8a8bbd612 lang=en page=126 hidelinks=1 width=100% height=500]