Spain were cut low by Chile, England by Uruguay, Italy by Costa Rica. Argentina were pushed to the last gasp by Iran, Germany had to come from behind to match Ghana. Add to this the merit badges earned by Croatia against Brazil, Bosnia against Argentina and the Aussies against the Dutch, and we have a remarkable list of performances by underdogs against countries who to some extent fancied their chances for the trophy.
The most striking feature of all these performances is the way the results were achieved. Apart from their own dead rubber in the Nou Camp last season, Celtic beat or narrowly lost to Barcelona in a series of games over the last decade by defending their 18 yard box as though their lives depended on it. Ventures forward were never supported by many players. We’ve not been alone, this is the way lower-resource clubs have taken on the super-rich in the Champions League.
World Cup 2014 has seen this change. Australia, Iran and Bosnia will head home proud of their performances, something which takes balls. When we’re inevitably drawn against Barca next time in the Champions League, should we press them high up the field? My feeling is, we would be slaughtered, but at one point in this tournament, we need to mature.
Visit the CQN Bookstore to get Tommy Gemmell to sign your personal copy of his book, All the Best.[calameo code=0003901719d82038831a9 lang=en page=126 hidelinks=1 width=100% height=500]