What were Champions League lessons?


Photo: Vagelis Georgariou biglens.co.uk

We’ve often discussed that the difference between success and failure at Champions League level more often than comes down to which team makes mistakes.  In the group stages Celtic were 31st out of 32 teams for the amount of possession they had, and for the number of chances they created, but they were immaculately drilled and progressed while more creative teams failed.

Cluj had less possession and chances than Celtic but also know the route to effective football, finishing on 10 points and being denied qualification for the knock out stage on goal difference.

Against Juventus, home and away, things changed.  Defenders twice jumped for balls they couldn’t reach, instead of turning and standing their ground.  Twice players were dispossessed inside their own half instead of getting rid of the ball early.  These moments led to four of Juventus’ five goals and decided the tie.  By contrast, Celtic enjoyed the bulk of possession and chances, home and away, against the Italian champions.

What are the lessons have been learned in our Champions League games?

Xavi has learned not to try to control a clearance from Fraser Forster at chest height.  Spartak’s Insaurralde will know to keep his eye on the ball while clearing the ball when last man while Suchy will know not to clatter into strikers inside his own box.

No Celtic player made a single mistake inside his own half in either of the home games against Barcelona and Spartak and as a result, both games were won.

Our players’ normal mode of play, week-in-week-out, is the intercept passes, not cautiously move to a covering position.  They also hold onto the ball and take a moment before releasing, activities which don’t often lead to a goal being conceded within seconds, but Champions League football is stunningly different than the domestic variety.

The most important lesson from our Champions League campaign is that Celtic are one of the most effective teams in Europe.  We can create goals and defend successfully against the best on the Continent.  We will look back on this campaign as the one which put us back on the map, and we’ll look back on the Juventus games as an important stage in our development.

The strategy is working; same again please.

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  1. The Battered Bunnet on

    Shameless grandstanding from Vmhan, who really out to know better than to post without the courtesy of reading the article.

  2. kikinthenakas on

    Good summation Paul. I think we have learned a lot over the campaign and Neil is a great ambassador for the club, his comments on sky last night were superb.


    The support over the CL games was immense home and away, now how can we get this into an SPL format is the next question….our players deserve as many supporters at CP as possible between now and the seasons end.


    Onto the double….



  3. Paul67



    Good article and you picked up on my bug bear where we were caught on the ball and punished, also we need to convert our opportunities and I’m sure we will improve in next seasons campaign.




  4. The Battered Bunnet on

    …and Paul, yip, Hooper…



    Fellow’s got a lot to learn about the game outside of the opposition’s box.

  5. In the 7 or so years I’ve been posting on here i’m proud to say I’ve never had a podium.


    Impressive eh?

  6. All this stuff about experience for next time etc. Hogwash! Most of that team are away. We are starting again from scratch. It’s what we do. Any decent players we pick up by chance next year will be swiftly sold, and so on and so forth. Us? Build a team? Don’t make me laugh. We build a new one every close-season.

  7. tictaewin


    Build a team? Don’t make me laugh.




    Going by your sunny disposition this afternoon,I believe that would be impossible.

  8. tictaewin


    12:40 on


    7 March, 2013



    The core of the players who played in Europe will still be there next season, Wilson, Mulgrew, Lustig, Matthews, Brown, Ledley, Samaras, Commons, Forrest and of the others not all will leave. Wanyama and Hooper are the most likely to go, possibly Forster but the others (Ambrose, Kayal, Stokes, Izzaguirre) are more likely to stay than go.

  9. Steinreignedsupreme on

    Paul 67 –



    What have we learned?



    That we can match the best in Europe if Celtic adapt their tactics.



    We all want to watch attacking football, that is what we were raised on, but against the best footballers in the world Celtic have to adopt caution or end up well beaten.



    It is no coincidence that we had a lamentable European record for the best part of 20 years during which time we threw caution to the wind.



    And while our adventurous style against Juventus was pleasing on the eye, it left our defence exposed. We outplayed Juventus in both games, but we also suffered our heaviest Champions League defeat at Celtic Park against technically the poorest of the four teams we hosted this season.

  10. Kilbowie Kelt on




    11:34 on 7 March, 2013



    The site stats boffins say CQN’ers are in the main aged 25-34, amongst other things!!


    Are some people telling porkies about their age?





    That helps me to understand some of the negative inanity that constantly pervades CQN.



    It is also proof that anybody under SIXTY knows NOTHING about Celtic & should only be allowed to post after his contribution has been scrutinised by a responsible senior citizen.






    Best of all possible times for Celtic !



    Dr. Pangloss CSC.

  11. On 15th/16th of March 100 cyclist will set off from 5 locations in the UK & Ireland for Belfast to raise funds that will go towards helping Wee Oscar Knox (check out the wee man himself – http://youtu.be/oVyxi7ypT4Y) fund the Immunotherapy treatment he so desperately requires. We will be leaving from:



    Celtic Park – 32 Cyclists


    Leeds – 7 Cyclists


    Duleek – 25 Cyclists


    Roscommon – 10 Cyclists


    Dublin – 26 Cyclist



    We will be supported by 16 support team members over the 2 days also.



    Our team is made up of CQN’ers, KDS’ers, friends and family members and non Celtic supporters.





    You can support our cyclists and support team by making a donation to this event by clicking here (remember to leave your blog name for us to thank you):



    Wee Oscar 4 Life Cycle’s To Belfast March 2013



    or by texting BELF88 to 70070 followed by amount (between £1 to £10) you wish to donate:





    To: 70070







    We would like to thank Burns Interior Design, Morrisons Facilities Services – FM Division, Gardiner & Theobald Surveyors, ProAir Conditioning, Firewater, DAMM Environmental, Access, AJ Print, Oracle, Project Pipework & Piling, Business Continuity Services and Sublime Designs for their sponsorship of the WeeOscar4Life cycle’s to Belfast. If your company would like to sponsor this event please drop an email to weeoscar4life@gmail.com



    Big Wee Oscar Thumbs up to following TIMternet bampots



















    The Token Tim




    Davy Bhoy






    Kaiser Soze












    Spirit Of Arthur Lee








    Farney Bhoy


    A Ceiler Gonof Rust


    Kerry CFC




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    The Little Gentleman In The Black Velvet Waistcoat




    The Cat














    Paddy Turner


    Swansea Bhoy


    Papa John




    Stephen with a ‘ph’


    Dandie Dinmont






    Big George’s Fan Club
















    Fin72(might be 75 :-)










    Drumchapel CSC (Oliver’s Bar)




    Squirrel Knutz




    @Gerryglesga’s Da & his Domino Pals








    This is the one This is the one






    Can I have a raspberry on that






    Nuclear Bovril & Half Munched Pie






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    Bobby Murdoch’s Curled Up Winkle Pickers


    16 Roads


    MR&MRS miki67 (howsat?:-)


    Bishop B


    Jobo Balde


    Len Brennan








    The Laddy McGreary


    The Long Wait Is Over


    German Jim







    for donations to WeeOscarLife Cycle’s to Belfast St Patricks weekend March 2013 and helping to smash £2k target with your ever growing donations reaching£2585






    WeeOscar4Life Team

  12. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon..!!.. Ibrox belongs to the creditors on




    12:40 on


    7 March, 2013




    Dooooooo Doooooooo ……. And Hail Hail to yooooooou……..the only thing the bhuns had to sell was their club, and that went for £1……… Hehe

  13. Forster – Staying


    Matthews – Staying


    Wilson – Staying


    Wanyama – Frank Bough


    Izzy – Staying


    Mulgrew – Staying


    Commons – Staying


    Sammy – Staying


    Hooper – Frank Bough


    Ledley – Staying


    Kayal – Staying



    Lenny staying. Usually like ray wilkins, but he was talking lilian gish last night…

  14. The long wait is over. From previous thread


    We can learn a lot from Juventus ties.


    Someone showed stats with us having 57% to 43% Possession and 30 shots to 16 over both ties.


    We need to learn that possession is onl part of play but positive possession is what we need to improve.


    Still to many lateral and backward passes causing slow build up that allows opponents to set defensively.


    Also Juve capitalised on turnovers by breaking position and flooding forward.Their experience has them playing great positional football but knowing when to deviate as opportunities arise.


    We tended to still hold position and slow play down when we created turnovers.


    We also need to learn to vary the tempo more.


    We have a very good young team who need to be more proactive than reactive to go on to the next level.Better off the ball movement and anticipation will get us there.


    Exciting times ahead to be a Celtic supporter

  15. What were Champions League lessons?



    If Liverpool are willing to pay £6 million for Efe Ambrose someone should call a helicopter hire company and get him down to Anfield before they figure him out.

  16. CultsBhoy loves being 1st forever & ever on

    Charles rewriting history re Hun sectarianism… It happened once by a small minority… Oh deary me!

  17. I watched the game last night through a lemsip haze ….. And whilst only 60% fit myself and the wee Lhad shouted and cheered till the last minute


    If you had offered me a chance of

  18. David Prowse


    6 million,I’ll give him a coaxy,coaksy,how the fek do you spell it?

  19. time for change on

    Just caught up with the site from last night…….



    Firstly well pleased with the performance and this year exceeded expectations.



    I won’t rely on the MSM for any news on who is going in the summer, if they had their way we would have no team.



    Barrach Obampot……well done or should I say tres bien a ta travail….spread it round the office yesterday with a brief translation……..



    Demographics I too am double the suggested age group.



    back to lurking :)



    Hail Hail

  20. After re reading my post, I must reconsider.


    I just felt a moment of frustration and disappointment in regards to VW contract position.


    I would dearly love him to stay. That’s what I meant to write.

  21. Good article Paul



    I thought that against Juve we played some pretty decent stuff more in keeping with what we think of as The Celtic Way – possibly because we were playing pretty freely at home and also because we thought Juve was slightly less good than it was/is and could afford to play more expansively than we did against any team in Europe since Helsinki. To be fair Juve was in mediocre form prior to the first leg so no blame attached.



    For thirty plus years I followed Celtic teams with truly gifted players struggle in Europe because of an obstinate failure to learn the same lessons every year. NFL like WGS doesnt have many players at his disposal who many would consider for their all time XI, but their teams have done better in Europe than supposedly better teams of ours did.



    A good striker signed, progress from Watt and Rogic and the retention of at least some of our key players and we can do better.



    And I am a pessimist





  22. … Playing for a qtr final spot before the campaign started I woulda bit yer hand off


    Well played NFL and the bhoys and as always well played the hoops support always a credit


    Hail hail


    Sorry this posts is in two bits bloody iPhone :-)

  23. voguepunter



    Was quoted a few months ago at £6 million!



    I reckon he’s at the voodoo!



    He looks like a man with a corrupted Sat Nav.

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