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. TerryONeill Neil ah love yae



    13:06 on 7 March, 2013


    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.






    Tony Watt would have been stood waiting for that ball…

  2. the battered bunnet



    12:48 on 7 March, 2013


    Shocking behaviour from the Fylde Fly man




  3. Tontine Tim,



    I was still in Primary School too at the time. I was in my usual position, sitting on the back wall of the old, old Jungle. Lovely sunny day it was too.

  4. Tontine Tim,



    Thanks for confirming my memory re the first time numbers were worn on shorts, by any club.



    I bet, like me, you were there!



    What does that say about the demographic average age of CQN !!

  5. Can I float a mad idea and get some reaction as to whether there is any possibility of it happening or whether its totally pie in the sky.



    Celtic to seek permission to play 1 Home SPL game in Dublin. Try it initially on a one off basis and evaluate it from there. There are 2 possible venues the Aviva (Rugby/Soccer Stadium capacity 51,700 or Croke Park (GAA Stadium circa 80,000). I reckon properly marketed, it could be part of a huge cultural tourist event in time. I know there would be a lot of snags to be ironed out but would it be worth a go. Would welcome CQN reaction.

  6. weet weet weet on




    steady mate,i’m a granda noo,they day’s ur gone.







  7. No corkcelt.


    I know certain elements would like Celtic to move “back home” to Dublin.


    Not me.



    Support an Irish club in Dublin if that’s what you’re after.


    Not a Scottish club in Glasgow.

  8. pabloh_AKA_NEIL LENNON on




    Yes, good European adventure this season, performed beyond expectations. Totally agree with how impressive defensively we were, very difficult to break down. Just a pity ambrose slipped up right at the beginning of the juve tie, we started well, the tie could’ve been closer.



    On the downside, for me; I’m not a fan of Mulgrew in the centre of midfield, I know Lenny sonetimes favours him there in the bigger matches. Last night I would’ve had wanyama in the midfield and Mulgrew centre half. Lennon’s use of Forrest over the two legs was strange, playing him out of position in first leg and allowing high balls to be played to him too often, then after a great performance on sat he was on the bench last night.



    The disappointing thing for me last night was we didn’t look sharp in attacking areas. We had plenty of opportunities to test the goalkeeper and only done so once. Was the same in the first leg – juve were happy for us to have a lot of the ball because we didn’t have a cutting edge up front.



    But for our young team, champions league football is a steep learning curve – crucial on & off the park we return there next season.

  9. BSR,


    no KB is not still alive. Reportsvof his death today!



    I know what you mean though.



    I thought he was dead years ago.



    I saw him in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, circa 1965 and he was an old man then, or so I thought!

  10. kikinthenakas on




    Would love to see Celtic v Hibs in Dublin, this would be great for the club and a reward for the supporters who travel over to see us week in week out.


    I think it could help sell merchandise and be great away day and I don’t think it would be to difficult to market.


    I would be up for it.




  11. Haw..Corkie!!



    Celtic Are A Scottish Team…!



    Who Play In Scotland….



    So Get Over It….. My Slap-Heided One..



    Hands-Off Oor National Treasure…



    Content Yerself Wi’ Val Doonican,Gay Byrne…….And Dana…



    We’ve Already Bailed Out Your Bust Banks…..



    You’ll Be Wantin’ Oor Wills & Kate Next..



    Right,,? Right…!

  12. Paul67 et al



    Well, we learned that the only team we failed to score against won both games. We learned that Juventus are well on their way back to, if not the top, then somewhere near it. We learned that we have a game which we can take on the road, and against lesser teams than Juve, ie in the qualifiers, we can look forward with some confidence. We learned that if we keep improving, as we have done since our Europa League efforts, then we can reach a similar stage next season.

  13. Saturday 7th


    I received a most welcome note tonight from Bernie, my sister. old Bernie. I love her and think she’s the greatest.


    I am now convinced that the authorities intend to implement strict isolation soon, as I am having trouble in seeing my solicitor. I hope I’m wrong about the isolation, but we’ll see.


    It’s only that I’d like to remain with the boys for as long as possible for many reasons. If I’m isolated, I will simply conquer it.


    A priest was in today, somewhat pleasant, and told me about Brendan O Cathaoir’s article in The Irish Times during the week, which I saw. We had a bit of discussion on certain points, which, of course, were to him contentious. He was cordial in his own practised way, purely tactical, of course, and at the same time he was most likely boiling over inside, thinking of the reference to this week’s AP/RN (February 28th issue) calling him a collaborating middle-class nationalist, or appropriate words to that effect.


    He is too, says I, and I sympathise with those unfortunate sons of God who find themselves battling against the poverty, disease, corruption, death and inhumanities of the missions…


    I am 61 kgs today, going down. I’m not troubled by hunger pangs, nor paranoiac about anything pertaining to food, but, by God, the food has improved here. I thought I noticed that during the last hunger-strike. Well, there is a lot at stake here.


    I got the Irish News today, but there’s nothing in it, that’s why I got it.


    I’m looking forward to seeing the comrades at Mass tomorrow, all the younger looking faces, minus the beards, moustaches, long rambling untamed hair matted in thick clumps.


    One thing is sure, that awful stage, of the piercing or glazed eyes, the tell-tale sign of the rigours of torture, won’t be gone – if it is ever removed. I wonder is it even conceivable that it could be erased from the mind?


    We got a new comrade during the week. Isn’t it inspiring the comrades who keep joining us? I read what Jennifer said in court. (On being sentenced, Jennifer McCann said: ‘I am a Republican prisoner of war and at the moment my comrade Bobby Sands is on hunger-strike to defend my rights as a political prisoner.’) I was touched and proud, she is my comrade.


    I’ve been thinking of Mary Doyle and Ellen McGuigan and all the rest of the girls in Armagh. How can I forget them?


    The Screws are staring at me perplexed. Many of them hope (if their eyes tell the truth) that I will die. If need be, I’ll oblige them, but my God they are fools. Oscar Wilde did not do justice to them for I believe they are lower than even he thought. And I may add there is only one thing lower than a Screw and that is a Governor. And in my experience the higher one goes up that disgusting ladder they call rank, or position, the lower one gets…


    It’s raining. I’m not cold, my spirits are well, and I’m still getting some smokes — decadence, well sort of, but who’s perfect. Bad for your health. Mar dheas anois, Oíche Mhaith.



    Bobby Sands

  14. I saw Lonnie Donegan in the Fox and Hounds in Houston c.1971 – late licence to midnight -thats when boozers shut at 10.Is Lonnie still with us?

  15. !!Bada Bing!! on

    The biggest thing I have taken from the CL campaign is the tactical ability shown by Neil,Johann and Garry (ably assisted by Danny and John Clark).It would have been very easy,given the lack of experience to be a couple of goals down early in a game a la Utrecht.We have learned quickly.Concentration was the key in getting the big results,sadly lack of concentration added to hesitation,was our undoing v Juventus.We must take our experience and use it to hopefully qualify again next season.

  16. Neil Lennon ‏@OfficialNeil


    The Scottish Suns back page sums up the way the media treat our club and players…pathetic

  17. Tontine Tim


    16:39 on


    7 March, 2013


    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.



    I was only 9, but if my memory serves me well, Didn’t the Sparta Goalie wear glasses of some sort?

  18. corkcelt



    A similar idea was proposed a few years back, not sure if it was official, for Celtic to play two games in Australia, January, one in Melbourne against Hearts, one in Sydney against against Hibs, or something along those lines. If I recollect rightly I was one of the few who, on here, actually supported the idea. But why stop at Dublin, why not an official game in London, New York, Melbourne at various points in time? Good idea though!

  19. Tally- that’s why he’s been a bit quiet then. When Im a wee bit bevvied at one of those horrendous do’s you are forced to attend- you know the great neices 18th birthday party at Pather Community Centre I sometimes ask the DJ if he has My Old Mans a Dustman

  20. Corkcelt


    Great idea!


    I’ve been to Wembley to see an NFL match and to Dublin to see Notre Dame play.


    We now have the NBA playing a couple of games in London.


    So, why not Celtic in Dublin?


    It’s usually the home team who don’t have a bid support who give up one of their games for it to happen. They will earn more money that way.


    Celtic v Hibernian in Dublin is a great idea.




  21. The point Celtic Mac is attendances are dropping. There is a big market for Celtic in Ireland, Exhibition games are O.K. up to a point but nothing can touch a competitive game, The one off game could be a money spinner in itself, local tourist Board could be tapped up, TV & Advertising, Merchandise etc. but it could also win Celtic a new generation of fans. There is no doubt that there has been a huge drop off in the numbers travelling from Ireland, an event of this nature could reverse the trend, with increasing numbers traveling for subsequent matches. I reckon an event of this nature would attract world wide attention and surely that could only be positive for the SPL in general.

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