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. From previous article






    12:18 on 7 March, 2013




    I couldn’t agree more with you sir.


    For me…the last semblance


    of any leading figure at CP was


    Martin O’Neill.


    You see…it works like this….


    the bored / PL release names of


    players that we’re supposed to be


    interested in to his puppets in the


    LL always at – SB renewal time.


    99 times out of 100 times the players


    end up going to another club.


    The hierarchy think that they are being crafty.


    They are – to the still wet behind the ears fans


    of whom there are many. But, these fans have


    paid for the product this season and, I’ll guess


    ad say that half of those who bought SB’s


    stopped going when, after losing 0-3 to Juve at


    CP – the CL smoke-screen was removed and


    what was left wisny up to much. Now, there are


    3 qualifying rd’s next season…will the board


    strengthen the team or, will the board take the


    gamble and wait to see if they get into the CL ?


    If they gamble and it comes off – Board = Visionaries.


    If they gamble and it disny come off……what to do ?


    Since MO’N left CP – The managers office has been


    filled with PL’s puppets. imo


    The club have won 4 titles out of 8. That’s ghood when


    you consider all that the club are up against. imo


    But…the 4 titles that they lost were down to – in the main


    the board not hammering home their advantage. imo


    Nobody is asking for a SDM car-crash spending spree


    just keep putting meat on the bones. THAT is all.


    They don’t do that and, this season isny over yet…so


    the balls are still up in the air. But, how long will Vic and


    Adam be oot for ? Can we replace them ?


    My fingers are sore noo :o)))



  2. The ‘European adventure’ this season has been fantastic.



    – Last 16 of the CL against all the odds.



    – Several players showing that they could cut it at this level.



    – Celtic fans proving once again that a European night at CP provides the best atmosphere on the continent.



    – Opposing players and fans in awe at the noise and passion of the Celtic fans.



    – Celtic receiving plaudits from everyone (except the Scottish msm).



    – The club’s stock rising once again.



    It was great while it lasted, and I hope for more of the same next season. Preparations have to start now – players will leave in the summer and hopefully replaced by others of an equal standard. The league is in the bag. SC success must be the other goal.



    Onwards and upwards Celtic!




  3. Cannot but agree, Paul67. Just goes to show what we could achieve if we’re playing a better standard of team week in week out. Most of our players are not out of place at this level. They simply need more opportunity of playing it.



    Any word about Wanyama and Matthews?

  4. Charles Green. Boke. What specifically is it about this man that makes my skin crawl….? Difficult to say…I think it might be the way he delivers his lies in such a bullish, cocksure fashion, knowing that no one in the MSM will ever bother to read up on the story and question him properly…grrr.

  5. picinisco 12:29



    Salute Picinisco, (that’s as good as my Italian gets) it is indeed a small world! My sister and niece visited the town about 3 years ago and were blown away by it, the people, the environ etc.



    My Nonna came from Civita D’antino and i’ve been there a number of times but i’m determined to visit Nonno’s home before i pop my clogs. He was a grumpy old sod (good reasons for being so as i found years later) but he was a good man and i loved him very much.



    All the best to you and yours picinisco, Hail Hail Amico in Celtic, what a journey Neil and the team have taken us on and i for one will be eternally grateful to them

  6. Kikinthenakas, agree.



    Vmhan, I’m chilled on the mistakes we were punished for. Tell players not to take a moment on the ball and they never develop.



    We took time on the ball for 180 minutes against Juve which will benefit us in the long term.



    Battered Bunnet, aye.



    Steinreignedsupreme, indeed.



    jimbo67, thanks.



    KevJungle, no question the Europa League offers a better chance of a trophy but I think we still have to learn at the latter stages of that one too.



    Better to learn against Juve than Inter….

  7. Afternoon folks



    At work just now so hav’nt read back on all the input. One thing struck me however and that is how disciplined and fit the Italian teams are. This is not a secret as they have been like this for decades and it is all down to eating the right things at the right time sleeping at the right times of day, training in between the eating and sleeping and no boozing or night night clubbing.



    We have a man in charge of the youth set up now called Jim Mc Guinness who demands all of these things and more so once again our club is ahead of the game and going in the right direction.






  8. mickbhoy1888 on

    Gincher 67



    If it all about opinions on here then from what I hear is that we will be looking for a new keeper next season as one of ours heading south something to do with being cup tied last transfer window the reason him not leaving in January


    i cant make up my mind which keeper keeper its likely to be


    Any opinions on our 4th senior pro

  9. TerryONeill Neil ah love yae on

    Good analysis Paul.



    Ronnie Whelan also made the point andbecause is a simple one and oft repeated it maybe gets passed over.



    The point he and Paul have made is that in Scotland we dont pay the penalty(most of the time) for



    the pass slightly behind the running player instead of into his stride,



    the poor first touch that leaves you open to a challenge and surrenderof possession.



    Av watched this team put in shoddy performances this season,



    shoddy in germs of passing accuracy



    ball control,poor marking.



    Yet we have done well.



    This is probably as high as we go all things considered unless we find a way to eradicate sloppiness.



    Is it acceptable to just get by because you can in most games in Scotland.



    Ah believe they can do better.



    Gary Hooper has the ability to control the ball not lose so cheaply,he has the anticipation to finish off the chance Sammi so brilliantly fashioned.



    He did not have it last night.



    All the routine of domestic matches should be our training ground to hone skills .



    We can do better, Jim McGuiness did a magnificent job with Donegal that same forensic attention to performance should be applied to the first team.

  10. The most important lesson I hope we’ve learned is how to play two-legged ties.



    At 0-1 down with 10 minutes to play at home, we shouldn’t have gone chasing an equaliser.



    If the positions had been reversed, Juve would have taken a 0-1 defeat knowing the tie would still be live going into the second leg.



    The last thing they’d do would be take chances and risk losing a second or third goal at home.

  11. Paul, do you think Celtic are aware of the really strong feeling of not Just us Celtic Supporters but of supporters of other clubs to walk away from Scottish football. A very simple poll on TSFM suggests ( if my sums are correct)…..7 % of fans will stick by their team next season …..93% have either walked now or will not be back next season..the media might now have their armageddon after all

  12. its worth remembering just how close wee gordan strachans celtic came to a last eight berth in the san siro 5/6 years ago.


    now that celtic team did not play a particularly expansive game on the big european nights..indeed the victory over man utd was single-handed organisation and caution .


    those same tactics got us so close against milan in the last 16.


    of course this time we never got close to juventus over two legs despite having a more cavalier attitude .


    I believe lennon will learn from this and given the oppertunity again he will change his tactics…im certainly not blaming him,infact i used to be strachans biggest critic!…perhaps i appreciate him more now than i ever did.


    its also worth pointing out that style wise ‘juve’ could have been the worst possibly draw we could have picked out the hat…I certainly dont think they are as great a team as many have said,however their defence laden style gave us little hope.


    its all good learning …I just hope we get through those 3 sets of qualifying ties to do it all again.it will not be easy,infact im sure we are even money at best to be in the group stages next year.

  13. Eurochamps67 on

    Lessons learned.


    Juventus are a very good team, technically proficient and extremely well drilled. They only need a few seconds to punish you severely.


    Celtic have several very decent players and one superstar, Vic67. When we function as a team and stick to the game plan we can match most. we do not possess the necessary quality to dispatch our chances.


    Efe’s header, Sammi’s shot, Hoops’ slow reaction to Sammi’s cross.


    Put Henke in there and we score 3.


    I know we will be expremely fortunate to ever see the likes of Henrik again, so at best we can aspire to CL group stage participation and with a bit of luck, the odd last 16 place where we are not equipped to deal with the high rollers over a knock out home and away.




  14. South Of Tunis on

    The likes of Juve play in a much better domestic league than Celtic..



    Juve play Catania this weekend —— the Catania line up will feature players who play for Argentina / Uruguay etc . Players who cost 4/5 million euros.. Players with pace / technique and game intelligence



    Celtic play Ross County this weekend.

  15. man city ,ajax,porto and chelsea play in much better leagues than celtic yet i never spotted either of those clubs in the champions league last 16.


    the standard of our domestic football cant help at times but it is not something we cant overcome……finance is the main barrier for us.

  16. excathedra44 on

    In my humble opinion we have never adequately replaced Brian Scott.



    We seem to have Physio’s who repair injuries when what we want is a regime which prevents in the first instance.



    Both Wanyama and Mathews are young men,I cannot understand how they can be so fragile at this stage in their careers.



    This is a key element in any team as constant team changes disrupt continuity resulting in the dis-jointed performances we have occasionally seen.

  17. The first part is done, qualification stage.


    The next part is being able to do it consistenetly, we must reach the group stages year upon year.


    The players then gain experience at the right level while new models are uncovered and bedded in.


    Until we can do this any hope of progressing past the last 16 is a far away dream.


    Only by qualifing for the group stages every year will we be able to draw the right calibre of player to join us.

  18. TerryONeill Neil ah love yae on

    kevjungle 13.15



    Am no wan for the banning,am banned from clyde for no good reason.



    Even if keevins merited a ban ad rather they just verbally put him in his place.

  19. South of Tunis I’ve a wee hope that Ross County represent Scotland in Europe next season. They can be no worse than the rest, whose combined achievements rank below that of The Republic of Ireland, who operate on less money and without a footballing giant to give them a leg up.



    However. James McFadden is likely to see to it that Motherwell prevail.

  20. will high 5 slap everyone if he keeps his job









    22:36 on 6 March, 2013


    When Allez LeCoist was born midwife slapped everybody.



    Xmas 1951 CSC


    except his father………who till this day cannot be found!!!

  21. tractorbhoy



    13:04 on 7 March, 2013



    ‘One thing struck me however and that is how disciplined and fit the Italian teams are.’




    I haven’t seen the UEFA stats for last nights game, however i seem to recall that Juve as a team ran more Kms than we did for the first game.



    Considering the pundits we got for our first game performance, Juve ran further and dare i say, therefore worked harder?



    I believe there is still fitness and drills our young team can do, to get batter. I think the UK game is in an awful place, If Bale is seen as a hard worker, a good pro, because he stays behind and takes free-kicks. This should be a given.

  22. I agree that we were the most effective team in the group stage. But that changed against Juve. They were incredibly effective/efficient.


    We were outplayed (outclassed?) by Barca when we beat them. In the two games against Juve we had more possession, more shots on target and more corners than Juve. We certainly weren’t outclassed by them, but ended up losing 5-0 on aggregate. It’s a funny game.


    However, this team has shown that it can play the passing game. It’s very promising.

  23. Parkheadcumsalford


    12:58 on


    7 March, 2013



    Spot on mate.



    I don’t think the break over winter helped the team as they fell away from the Champions League mentality, and we lost a bit of CL momentum. To be back playing the Motherwells, St Mirrens, Kilmarnocks etc, then re-adjusting to a Juventus was asking too much. If however, we were playing at that sort of level week in week out, I would expect our chances of advancing in the CL to be far higher. I believe the drop in level of opposition is the major contributor to our downfall when it comes to CL games. In the SPL the defence know they can afford the odd loss of concentration and not get punished, and subsequently their sub-conscious has them operating at that level. When asked to ‘up’ this for greater opposition, this results in the customary blunder, which can usually be explained by a lack of concentration. If Celtic are ever to progress to a major contender in European football they (we) need to get out of this damn SPL! Of course if we ever got to the EPL we are not guaranteed to finish in a European spot. But I sure as hell would love to try.




  24. excathedra44 13:23 on 7 March, 2013



    Why, in your humble opinion would a change in physio stop injuries?


    This is the time of the year for hamstring.


    Last night, freshly laid park, rain all day slippy underfoot, these things will happen.


    Are you forgetting that both the players you mention have been playing twice a week for 4 weeks or so?

  25. I forgot to say that I heard somewhere that we were the youngest team in the CL. Don’t know whether this was from the beginning or in the last 16.

  26. Have to say very pleased overall with our CL run.


    The better, more clinical team, won the last 16 round. I can’t believe Neil wanting them to go all the way after the way the manhandled us at CP; that apart his interview last night was first class.



    Watching Sky last night I was very impressed – not for the first time this season – with the way Jamie Redknapp talked us up. ( Compare and contrast to Wilkins and Sounness plus the Scottis MSM). I think Jamie and Jeff Stelling really appreciate the ‘Tic.


    Today’s Herald an absolute disgrace with four very negative stories re last night.



    I’m now waiting ( not with bared breath) for Celtic to ask that Ogilvie be removed from office and I would withdraw us from this season’s cup following the LNS fiasco.



    Time to earn that fat salary, Peter.

  27. South Of Tunis @11:48



    soz I had to nip out.



    In other words Sion fielded illegally registered players!



    Auldheid @12:02



    Have you got any articles that go into detail of the flaws of LNS verdict?




  28. When the accounts are audited and handed into the SPL, will Hearts have any notes regarding “going concern”?


    Will Kilmarnock?


    What about Dunfermline(d) do they issue accounts to the SFL, surely they cannot begin next season in one of the top leagues?


    Were Livingston not demoted to the bottom tier for the same thing?



    Will the leagues and the SFA be paying attention to these details?

  29. TerryONeill Neil ah love yae



    13:27 on 7 March, 2013




    Fair point M8


    But, I’ll tell ye – yer well missed on the SSB. imo


    Ye wur too fit fir them M8


    Thanks for awe the hunskelping that you did on there


    over the years. Ye wir Brilliant.


    If you don’t mind…I think the day that ye pointed out to them


    that – “Mike McCurry is either – a coward or a cheat !!!”……


    …that’ll be carved on SSB’s grave stone when they go :o)))


    Hail Hail n God Bless Ye

  30. South Of Tunis


    13:17 on


    7 March, 2013


    The likes of Juve play in a much better domestic league than Celtic..



    Juve play Catania this weekend —— the Catania line up will feature players who play for Argentina / Uruguay etc . Players who cost 4/5 million euros.. Players with pace / technique and game intelligence



    Celtic play Ross County this weekend.






    Very true.



    The Juve v Catania game at the weekend could, barring injuries/suspensions, involve up to a dozen internationalists from various countries and will be played in front of a (near) capacity crowd of 41,000. On display there will be a lot of technical ability, pace, organisation and game awareness.



    The combined population of Torino and Catania is c1.2 million.



    Victoria Park in Dingwall has a capacity of about 6,000 – you could fit most of the residents of the town in it.



    That about sums it up in a nutshell – Celtic are severely hampered by geography and demographics.



    …but there is a big wide world out there.




  31. Paul


    Very good summary of the European dream. We played well last night and all through the CL. we must remember too that the Italians are the absolute masters of defence going back to when Kojo was a boy. Seriously though I was very pleased with the overall performance and before anyone says Hooperman and Sammi were ineffective, just remember the caliber of the Juve defence, top hole really.


    As usual our support was brilliant and the mutual friendship between the both sets of fans was touching. Great stuff.


    Thought the banner in the crowd of “There;s no duty free in Division three ” was brilliant.



    Hail Hail




  32. Calcio Mercato: Kudos to the great fans of Celtic



    “The fantastic Celtic fans gave a real lesson in civility in sport. The chants and insults which blight too many games in Serie A are light years away from the spectacle of education and sportsmanship that the people in the Celtic away end offered.



    “They are a worthy rival for Juventus. That horizontally striped white and green jersey is the uniform of a club worthy of the applause of the world.”

  33. anyone hear packie bonners dream X1 on shortbread last night.


    packie spoke brilliantly and it was a great wee feature.


    i was especially ignited by his midfield of LIAM BRADY,PAUL MCSTAY,ROY KEANE!


    now thats what i call a midfield….also considering the centre forwards hes played with for the irish team and celtic the fact he picked ‘frank mcavennie’ spoke volumes.


    no mentions or picks for ‘roy aitken’ or ‘john collins’ which was a surprise.

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