I watched Leipzig lose 3-0 to Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday evening. It was not the reassuringly bad performance by our Champions League opponents the score line suggests. Leipzig showed plenty of effort throughout, even when the outcome was beyond doubt.
They were frustrating in attack and porous in defence; a bit like Celtic the following day, but in the Bundesliga, punishment is more acute than anything we are likely to see in Paisley. Leipzig are a team lesser than its constituent parts. In time, that will change. Celtic’s concern with this issue will be over three weeks today, when the second of our doubleheader against them takes place.
We return to action at home to Motherwell, four days before our game in Germany. Another chance for Ange Postecoglou to rotate the squad? That’s significantly less likely now than pre-Paisley. At the same time, Leipzig are home to bottom of the gable, Bochum, who have one point from seven outings. They could not have handpicked an easier warmup for our meeting.
What is less reassuring for Marco Rose, who took over as Leizig manager two weeks ago, is that like Celtic, the bulk of his squad departed for international duty since the weekend. He will not get an opportunity to work with them as a group until a couple of days before the Bochum game. Even that game is unlikely to provide a useful test of progress.
Whatever ails Leipzig, Rose will cure their vulnerable soon. Celtic have to exploit a team in flux and find two performances in the next three weeks that can define their season.