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Toe-to-toe with the best

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Rolling-over St Mirren easily tells you nothing about what will happen at the Camp Nou.  As it is, we performed as well as any team in Europe would have last night.  Inter Milan and Chelsea won the Champions League in 2010 and 2012 respectively after putting on a similar performance to Celtic in the most testing theatre in football.

The manager, players, supporters and everyone at the club deserve enormous credit for their part in this.  Celtic’s achievement is all the more remarkable when you consider they live within their means, and this is not a dig at some former domestic rivalry, the most consistent trait of those currently regarded as uber-teams, including Barcelona, is a refusal to limit expenditure to match income over any business period.  We can admire the art of this Barca team while looking forward to the day Financial Fair Play regulations inhibit their expenditure to the £200m-or-so a season more than Celtic’s income.

Barca will know they face a difficult task at Celtic Park in two weeks.  Our goal came, as I predicted on Sunday, after a free kick inside the Barcelona half was dropped onto an elevated Celtic head inside the box.  When the game is analysed I’m sure the coaches will conclude that we should have invited more challenges in similar areas – on the wing, circa 35 yards from goal. This is an easier area of the field to get possession in than the penalty box and, for Celtic, equally as dangerous.

Messi, Xavi and Iniesta got everything right for their first goal immediately before half time.  The passing was fast, tight and each first touch was excellent, but this was a rarity.  On all other occasions Celtic forced them into a pass which was too tight or too fast, or to simply make another safe pass and try again.

The second Barcelona goal was a consequence of defending too deep to press the cross.  It was the kind of goal you lose in the 94th minute on a huge pitch.

Celtic successfully defended corner kicks zonally.  For 70 minutes Barca took short corners, almost always to an unmarked player on the wing, Celtic didn’t mark this player all game, which brought a complaint from me every time, but they defended the zones the needed to inside the penalty area.  Conceding possession outside the box looked like a conscious decision.  Eventually Messi was reduced to pitching corners down the throat of the Celtic defence with predictable results.

There is still have a hard job ahead to qualify for the knock out stage or for the Europa League but we have gone toe-to-toe with every team in the group and have competed admirably with each – which was regarded as an objective as recently as last month.  I’m enjoying my football this season.

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  1. Bawsman

     

     

     

     

    Twasn’t Jamsie who’s job it was to stop the cross mate, he was in the right place but was part of the TEAM who didn’t stop the goal.

     

     

    Noscapegoats CSC

     

     

    Not looking for a scapegoat, it is a pattern of his play he needs to improve and it will be better for the team

     

     

    They play as a team, win like a team and lose like a team

     

     

    HH

  2. falkirkbhoy

     

     

    That the first time you’ve ever watched Barcelona?

     

     

    Jist asking like………………They’ve lost ONE of their last 64 home games (against Royal Madrid).

  3. Second place after 3 games including an away trip to Barca. Our destiny is in our own hands, not many outwith the Celtic Family thought that would be the case.

     

     

    God Bless Neil Francis Lennon.

  4. Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan supports Kano 1000

     

    @11:17

     

     

    Sir you manage to put our thoughts and dreamsinto words in a very eloquent and articulate manner. Congratulations on another marvelous essay.

     

     

    Great article and a must read.

     

     

    Can I point out that the Celtic fans leaving the San Siro having lost in extra time to AC, were given similar applause by the stewards and the police.

     

     

    We were still singing a good hour or more after the game.

  5. Blindlemonchitlin on

    Jim Spence tweeting Michael Marra has passed away. Very sad.

     

     

    Loved his stuff.

     

     

    King Kong Comes to Glasgow, Reynard in Paradise. He ‘got’ Celtic, no mistake.

     

     

    I have a tape somehwere of a BBC In Concert performance form the ’90s where he’s introducing a nice wee song about how daft it is to chain up the swings on a Sunday in the less enlightened parts of the Western Isles. He explains how there are about fifteeen amateur football teams on Barra and they all wear Celtic strips. No one would agree who was to forego the Hoops when playing ‘away’ so they compromised and the visitors wore balaclavas. I loved that.

     

     

    God rest him.

  6. StMichaelsBhoy2 on

    It’s easy to blame James Forrest for the second goal, he was the last player who could have prevented the goal.

     

     

    At the time though, I was screaming for Izaguirre and (I think) Kayal to close down the guy who put the cross over from the right wing.

     

     

    The cross cleared Ambrose’s head by no more than an inch or two, maybe his positioning could have been better.

     

     

    I don’t want to blame any one individual for the goal, the team played superbly well for 93 minutes and the concession of an injury time goal was down as much to tiredness after chasing shadows for so long as anything else.

  7. An Tearmann

     

     

    ‘we did it by playing football.Pure,beautiful, inventive, football’,

     

     

    do you put that in every post, because that wasnt us last night.

     

     

    Paul metioned we should have been making better use of the wings, i agree down the wings to get fouls so we could use our strength in the air.

     

     

    I said the same words that i said last night, we need to make this free kick count and we did, last time it was Big bad John, this time it was, Sammi?

     

     

    Getting fouls to swing the ball into the box to use our height, isn’t, actually Pure,beautiful, inventive, football.

  8. falkirkbhoy

     

     

    Barca are nowhere near their best? Away and check their results so far this season.

  9. BOBBY MURDOCH’S CURLED-UP WINKLEPICKERS

     

     

     

    Speaking about heavy handed policing.. a few years ago the Dead Club played away against Osasuna.

     

     

    They suffered some ‘heavy handed unprovoked’ policing in the ground

     

    All the Scottish journalists wrung their hands about how unfair it was , FoD fans who had travelled all phoned to say they were totally innocent…. yeah right.

     

     

    A colleague of mine (at the time )is Basque , I asked him to check out the ‘other side’ of the story.

     

    He came back 10 minutes later with translated excerpts from Basque papers and Osasuna Blogs ,which all attested to the fact that the riot police only moved in because of coin throwing from the away fans (pictures of an elderly woman wearing an Osasuna scarf ,with blood pouring down her face)

     

     

    Not a story that any of the lazy journalists thought to investigate …..or carry.

     

     

    Strange that

     

     

    The Onlooker

  10. Steviebhoy66

     

     

    he was in the right place at the right time, my guess is that he thought – I think it was Wilson – was getting his head to the cross, he simply didn’t adjust quickly enough.

     

    It was a team goal we lost, Forrest was not the only reason.

  11. Paddy Power ‏@paddypower

     

    Did you know: Celtic are the first team in 2012 to prevent Messi getting an assist or a goal! Looking forward to the leg in Glasgow now!

     

    Retweeted by Kevin White

     

    Expand Reply Retweet Favorite

  12. DBBIA (yesterday),

     

    You/I /Celtic/ Catholicism may be a broad church: Ernie most certainly is not. Let’s not allow that to detract from our current glow of satisfaction, tho’.

     

    PS belated condolences on losing your mother – I remember…..

  13. Francisco José (better known as Lobo, or wolf) Carrasco, who scored nearly 50 goals for Barcelona in 262 matches between 1978 and 1989, and five for Spain in 35 matches, does a tactical analysis thing for El Mundo Deportivo.

     

     

    Of Celtic last night, he has said: “The game began with excellent work by Alexis to find space, although in the end his shot was off target thanks to good closing down by Forster, who would prove to be a HERO [his emphasis] on the night. Barça had all the play against a Scottish team that was happy to stay tight and wait for a free-kick or a corner, and the first time they got one, bang. Mascherano’s shoulder deflected an attempt by Samaras and Barcelona were chasing the game again [a reference to their comeback against Deportivo La Coruña]. Without giving Barcelona any space, Forster’s team-mates were only being trouble by the pace of Jordi Alba, Iniesta’s weaving runs in the hope of finding Messi or by the odd electric one-two.”

  14. West Yorkshire Police chief constable Sir Norman Bettison has resigned from the force.

     

     

    The resignation comes as his role in the aftermath of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster is being investigated.

     

     

    At the time of the tragedy, Sir Norman was a South Yorkshire Police inspector who attended the match as a spectator and later took part in an internal inquiry.

     

     

    Justice For The 96!

  15. Bawsman

     

     

    No i dont have Sky

     

     

    The Guardian has a great Podcast, twice a week, you get updates from real jurno’s about the English, French, Italian, German and spanish leagues. They only mentioned us when we were playing them.

     

     

    However i now see that some of them are slowly getting some pundit jobs, as they know their stuff.

     

     

    Anyway – Sid lowe, great updates about spanish football, after the abuse he has got on twitter last night and today about the ‘brave’ tag given to our performance last night, am sure we will get a mention in tomorrows podcast.

  16. It seems churlish to give individual critiques from last night.

     

     

    So, here you go:

     

     

    Hooper, Izaguirre [3]

     

     

    Hooper thrives in an attack-minded team. Last night he showed a poor touch and his frustration, understandable though it was, didn’t help his game. Izzy was unable to find a Celtic player all night.

     

     

    Wilson [5]

     

     

    Don’t get me wrong, Wilson’s partnership with Efe looks very promising, but his abilities weren’t as effective for Celtic as those of his more classy partner.

     

     

    Brown, Samaras [6]

     

     

    Sammi provided yet more evidence as to why he’s become our talisman in Europe, while Brown showed excellent battling qualities (unfairly penalised, imo, for both of Messi’s freekicks, awarded for being Messi).

     

     

    Lustig, Wanyama [7]

     

     

    Lustig – showed great pace throughout, and cool under pressure with his passing. Vic was a midfield titan in the 2nd half, his play just lacking that final touch.

     

     

    Ledley [8]

     

     

    Once again showed how important he is when the play gets congested. Great reading of the game, coupled with some intricate passing out of danger.

     

     

    Mulgrew [9]

     

     

    I was never a fan of Mulgrew, but he grows in stature with every game. Fantastic delivery, and great judgement in defence.

     

     

    Forster [10]

     

     

    He will feel taht his saves counted for nothing – not sure Roy Hodgson will agree. What a goalkeeper we have on our hands.

  17. Perhaps Forrest had the responsibility to track Alba but thats no mean feat considering the guy is probably the worlds best in that position.

     

    Young Forrest played very well when he came on last night against the best team in the world.

     

    This young man is impressive.

     

    We are a team on the up and he is one of the reasons for this.

     

    FF. Legend

     

    Lustig, Brilliant

     

    Ambrose, Brilliant

     

    Wilson, Superb

     

    Izzy,Good, some great play but sometimes caught in no mans land

     

    Broonie.A Celtic captain

     

    Ledley.V Good, guy never lets us down.

     

    Wanyama.A rock,incredibly assured for such a young guy against worlds best

     

    Mulgrew.Good some very good moments but needs a little more composure

     

    Samaras,Brilliant,he always delivers on the big stage

     

    Hooper.Good,excellent workrate but needs more composure at this level in lone role

     

    Forrest.VGood

     

    Commons.Good had some moments

     

    Kayal.Not on long enough to have impact.

     

    Coaching was excellent and we are really showing some very good team shape.

  18. Oops. Forgot Ambrose. How could I forget the glorious Efe? Definitely up there with Mulgrew. A [9]

  19. Blindlemonchitlin

     

     

    12:37 on 24 October, 2012

     

     

    ‘Jim Spence tweeting Michael Marra has passed away. Very sad.’

     

     

     

    Always put me in mind of Randy Newman.

     

     

    Sorry to hear he’s died.

  20. Falkirk Bhoy sounds uncannily like one of the miserable huns trolling Britney on Twitter for not slagging off Celtic’s defensive tactics in his column.

     

     

    You would think they had enough on their plate chasing their first away win in the bottom tier of Scottish football.

     

     

    As many stated last night:

     

     

    Disappointment is temporary. Liquidation is permanent.

  21. sixtaeseven: £94M: Permanent Embarrassment & Disgrace Forever on

    At the start of the season, most of us would have been happy to actually get into the CL group stages, but not only are we there, we are competing.

     

    As mentioned peviously, the very fact that we are disappointed that we didn’t pick up a point in Barcelona, tells its own story.

     

    In fifty years of watching Celtic, I dont believe I have ever have seen a more disciplined display: the levels of commitment and concentration were first class.

     

     

    I think we learned a lot from last year’s Europa experience, and hopefully, this season’s European adventure will continue well into the New Year.

     

     

    Europe is essential for Celtic. We can put up with the drab SPL matches, in the knowledge that we can throw off the boiler suit and put on the tuxedo, and dine at the top table where we belong.

     

     

    Interesting stats from UEFA site on last night match:

     

    Top Five players are Samaras, Forster, Messi, Iniesta and Hooper (in that order!).

     

    Possession Barca: 90%

     

    Fouls committed: Barca 10, Celts 11

     

    and Jamsie was booked a few minutes before the goal (91min).

  22. Of the subs, Commons had a terrific initial impact before being subdued as Celtic retreated late on. Forrest looked great going forward and pretty god defensively until his last minute error cost us the match. Kayal was the defensive substitution to shore up the draw – but for 15 seconds it would have worked.

  23. theglasgowcelticway on

    So proud of our club last night.What is it about Celtic in the Champions League?We have a budget that compares with a average Championship side yet we’ve troubled some of the weathiest teams on the planet.Could you imagine Ipswich Town or Watford making such a consistent impact in this competition?If we ever enter a league that places us on an even keel with these teams watch us go.

  24. BOBBY MURDOCH'S CURLED-UP WINKLEPICKERS on

    THE ONLOOKER

     

     

    Ah,let’s face the facts here-you couldnae even take them back to apologise!

  25. Filming at the site of a great Glasgow football finance collapse – the terraces of the old Third Lanark stadium.

     

    Alex Thomson

  26. Javier Gascón edits the content on Barcelona for El Mundo Deportivo.

     

     

    His column today begins thus …

     

     

    “This was like going to see a cult film for the umpteenth time, even though you know the plot, only to find that they had suddenly changed the ending. The home legs of the the CL semi-finals in 2010 and 2012 against Inter and Chelsea both ended with Barcelona being knocked out. They were like games of handball with Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and company passing the ball around in front of the penalty area looking for gaps that they seldom found. And when they found one, Julio César and Cech stopped everything.

     

     

    “Last night it was a repeat of the same script, only with the gigantic Fraser Forster starring in the role of goalkeeper … .”

  27. reilly1926

     

     

    Grow up

     

     

    oh someone said something i dont agree with, must be a Hun!

     

    I seek out and support good jurno’s theres not many of them around.

  28. Paul

     

    So many positives to be taken from last nights game. With a few tweaks here and there, next time v Barca could be very interesting. They will not play any differently. We should approach with optimism, remain cautious and you never know. Great things await these young men in the not to distant future.

  29. Morning..wee bit hoarse today. Players were fantastic last night and am sure they will have learned a lot about themselves.

     

     

    Neil Lennon 1hr ago.

  30. up_over_goal

     

    12:45 on

     

    24 October, 2012

     

     

     

    We are poles apart in our assessment of players last night with the exception of forster! funny old game ain’t it

  31. I didn’t say you were a hun I just said you sounded like one. Now do one and don’t bother to reply to this as you strike me as someone who I could do without corresponding with.

  32. Ten Men Won The League

     

     

    12:40 on 24 October, 2012

     

     

    Paddy Power ‏@paddypower

     

    Did you know: Celtic are the first team in 2012 to prevent Messi getting an assist or a goal! Looking forward to the leg in Glasgow now!

     

    Retweeted by Kevin White

     

    Expand Reply Retweet Favorite

     

    +++++

     

     

    Villareal 0-0 Barcelona, 28th Jan 2012??

  33. up_over_goal

     

     

     

    12:46 on 24 October, 2012

     

     

    Efe, what an excellent signing. He plays his heart out every game.

  34. Dontbrattbakkinanger on

    Invercelt -many thanks; appreciated.

     

     

    Anyways, it’s not the players we need to keep hold of, it’s the manager.

     

     

    NFLennon is lookin’ more and more like the ole real deal.

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