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. Greetings from Düsseldorf airport, on the Weißbier and loving it. On my way back for a curry in Brick lane and a few Cobras then a long weekend with my mate In Trowbridge. As he is an Evertonian Saturday will be Everton in the cup followed by the Bhoys in the Lamb, courtesy of Al Jazeera or similar.


    What did we learn from the CL? Well IMHO the Juve tie turned on the first 4 minutes at CP, after that it was always going to be an uphill struggle. So what did we learn? I would hope that it would be that you don’t play a guy who has travelled half way round the world and arrives the same day as a major football tie.


    For all the ghuys who want to punt Efe I have 2 words Kelvin Wilson. This guy took a lot of stick but he is now turning into the centre half we have always wanted. Get him signed up on a long term contract and build the defence around him. Juve showed one thing if you can defend then you will progress.


    As regards old Chuckie an old saying comes to mind and it involves giving him enough rope. When it happens we’ll be looking at a dope on a rope.

  2. thetimrieper on

    Margaret McGill



    I think the anti-british sentiment goes a lot further than just in football.

  3. weet weet weet on




    sorry mate,forgot aboot tulips



    bloomin fantastic



    thanks for the italian updates




  4. The Moon Bhoys on

    Pwoud, so vewy, vewy, pwoud….and gutted as well obviously. We fought the good fight and I’m sure Neil in particular will have learned enough to make us that wee bit harder to beat next time around.

  5. Maybe we should investigate what the Dutch eat.



    They are big lumps and have been excelling themselves in football for about 50 yrs now.



    I tried some of their wee cakes once in Amsterdam but it did nothing for my ability to walk in a straight line far less make me a better footballer.

  6. David Peter Deans on

    It has been a great Champions league campaign. Over the 2 legs against Juventus, the difference was, we made mistakes in defense which cost us goals, and failed to take our chances at the other end. On the balance of play we were the better team. To the Ambrose critics he has quality when in possesion, we must keep him he, will only get better with time. If Hooper goes, i saw a lad playing up front for Hibs on Sunday on his lonesome, and he ran the Kilmarnock defence ragged and scored a hatrick, we could do a lot worse and i beleive he is only on loan at Hibs at present. On that performance alone he is better than Hooper and works harder. Once again great performance Celtic on a tight budget.



    Hail Hail.

  7. weet weet weet on




    i know mate aw i kept seeing wiz wummin in shope windeas




  8. Philbhoy,



    I may be wrong, but I think that game v Sparta was the first time numbers appeared on football shorts.

  9. Uly



    That info was from my brother who has lived there for about 15 years



    When I go out for a night out with him we go to Glasgow

  10. david prowse


    16:16 on 7 March, 2013




    Well maybe we just view the game from different perspectives! NL wanted KW because he saw the potential, IMO that potential is coming to fruition. As regards Efe, if we punted every player because they made a mistake then you wouldn’t have a team. Maybe we should have gotten rid of a certain Mr Larsson after his debut howler?

  11. I’m still on holiday so only able to dip into the blog occasionally. I was very proud of our effort last night and it was an immense achievement to get where we did on such a shoestring budget. To think that even the massive Man U were put out the previous night in their own territory really brought it home just how far we have progressed.



    I watched the game in a Spanish bar where there was only one other Celtic fan. We exchanged a few comments about the team and the play throughout the game. However, my jaw dropped when, near the end, he said, “you know what? I’d give all this up for a return to the old firm games”. “Never in a million years!” was my reply.



    I just couldn’t believe I’d actually met one of them – the mystery fans who call into SSB etc and moan about missing the terrible ones. Anyway, I left him in no about about my feelings. He never spoke to me after that. Ah well.

  12. Lessons learned.


    Some good reading today.


    I hope NFL has a good idea now what it takes to win in Europe so we can match or do better than this year.


    I don’t really have anything to add. It has all been said.


    All I would say is that our youths are the future and we should doing our utmost to get them to a physical and technical standard to compete with Europe’s players.


    The ability to control and pass a ball, coupled with the strength to hold off the opposing players should be the benchmark for our future players.


    Looking forward to next year’s CL, and the next and the one after that……..and so on.




  13. ChapelhallCelt on

    Cardossi’s in paisley is good italian food, busy on Sat nights so need to book ahead

  14. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon..!!.. Ibrox belongs to the creditors on

    Think everyone, except the totally duped Scottish media and bhuns, are starting to see greengo for the clown he really is …..although he does have a clever little (pension pot) agenda well in place …..

  15. Never actually met a Celtic ‘fan’ who has said to me – “A’ really miss matches against the huns!”



    If I do I will punch him in the face!




  16. Courtsy of Celtic Wiki



    14.05.1960 Celtic 5-1 Sparta Rotterdam Dutch week in Glasgow



    The first time Celtic ever wore numbers on their shorts.



    I was still in the primary tae then

  17. weet weet weet @16:20 “Ntassoolla



    i know mate aw i kept seeing wiz wummin in shope windeas”



    I hope window shopping is as far as it got young man.



    I continued to the Van Gogh museum and there was a Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibition on. I thought I had stepped through a time warp with Glasgow on the other side. The museum staff thought it a great hoot and kindly refunded my money.

  18. Pogmathonyahun aka Laird of the Smiles


    16:29 on


    7 March, 2013



    Ambrose does the same schoolboy errors every week in the SPL. He get’s away with them because of the quality of the opposition. The clown couldn’t even get the bus to training yesterday. The man is a rocket, and the sooner he’s far away from Celtic park the more my heart will stop palpitating any time the ball is within 60 yards of him.



    Because…..you know, sooner rather than later he’s gonna make a balls of it all. Why Lennon continues with him is beyond me. I’ve seen better quality defenders playing for Duffy’s Bar in Annagry in the Rosses pub league in the 90’s than this charlatan.



    And that was after they spent a night on the drink!



    The man is a rocket, a rocket that is out of control and crashing to earth.

  19. Marrakesh Express on

    Without taking anything away from the team effort produced to get us so far in the CL, we wouldnt have achieved it without FF. For me his performances against Barcelona turned what could have been two 3-0 defeats into two tight scores, three points, and qualification. Its obvious that players will leave in the summer but I think FF will be hardest to replace if he’s sold.



    NL has learned more from the CL campaign than he would in five SPL seasons. Some players may not quite be up to taking the club forward, but others like Wilson have proved they have what it takes. Neil will no doubt be planning ahead this early.



    Which leads me to Wilkins on sky last night. I wish Jeff Stelling would have asked him where he expected the manager to go. It wont be any top six EPL side, and it wont be the Championship. So would Lennon leave the chance of another crack at CL glory nights to manage a Villa, WBA, West Ham or Swansea, and all the uncertainty that goes with the job? Anyway I get the vibe that NL is enjoying every second of lording it over Ally and proving his MSM demonisers wrong at the same time. He will also want to continue paying back the club and fans who backed him to the hilt in his time of extreme grief.




  20. david prowse @16.46



    I think you’re a wee bit harsh there, then again, if I was Darth Vader, I could say what I bloody well liked too!




  21. Ntassoolla



    Yer’ awright bud – ma fightin’ days are over!



    Different in the old days of a Catholic education in Kilwinning!



    We used to take on all comers then!



    There were a few!




  22. bournesouprecipe


    16:47 on


    7 March, 2013


    Do the ole Celtic shorts shrink to fit inferior players?






    What about heated trousers?!




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