It was a hard shift for Gordon Strachan’s Scotland last night. Germany are on a different level, possibly from all other teams, at the moment, but Gordon’s been through similar tests as Celtic manager. What I liked about the display was that German were afforded few genuine chances, while the goals they scored, a deflection and two which hit the post before crossing the line, gave David Marshall no chance.
Scotland failed to collect a point as they found it impossible to concentrate at the level required for the entire 90 minutes. We’ve seen Celtic teams do this successfully in the past – and not just against Barcelona. We took Milan to a 0-0 after 90 minutes in the San Siro, while teams from Manchester and Munich, and lesser locations, chased the oxygen out of Celtic players’ lungs but could not find the space required to turn Celtic over.
During the previous two seasons Celtic recorded impressive domestic defensive records, but this was not due to imperious levels of concentration, we were simply better than the opposition by a sufficient margin. When that wasn’t the case, in Europe, we often didn’t display the levels of concentration which was on show, even from Scotland last night.
Great players can score wonder goals against you at any point, but don’t dive into tackles, watch what’s going on off the ball, make the right choices on how to press the ball, and even the greats will struggle to make an opening.
The biggest challenge we have ahead of the Europa League campaign is incorporating this season’s defensive arrivals into a coherent defensive strategy. It’s a concern that Craig Gordon looks like a better goalkeeper playing for Celtic in Europe than David Marshall did playing for Scotland against Germany. Marshall is a good enough keeper, but his defence didn’t expose him too often. Craig is called upon too often in Europe.
With all that’s going on in the world at the moment, in particular with the Foundation, Celtic sponsor, Intelligent Car Leasing, have offered us a fantastic auction prize: Corporate Hospitality at Celtic v Dundee, on 20 September, lunch and drinks in the Walfrid with great seats in the Directors’ Box for three people.
This is a very rare opportunity to enjoy a money-can’t-buy experience. All proceeds to raise funds for Celtic FC Foundation’s fantastic work to improve Health, promote Equality, encourage Learning and tackle Poverty. Get bidding and keep an eye on the auction here on ebay.