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. Corkcelt



    I quite like the idea of Celtic playing a genuinely competitive game in Dublin – as long as my ticket is valid. Have it towards the end of the season so that I could save up to go!



    I remember being over in Milan a few years back to watch Milan v Juve and learning that Juve had moved the game with Dortmund on the Tuesday to San Siro because they could get a bigger crowd (and because they’d fallen out with Turin Council) so there is a precedent of sorts in football itself





  2. thetimrieper on

    Scum then, scum now, scum forever.



    Hopefully no one on this site actually buys it, if you do, stop now.

  3. corkcelt



    I do not disagree with you, the cost of tickets, travel and accommodation can mean a trip to Glasgow very prohibitive indeed, and that is from anywhere outside Scotland. And the British and Irish economies are unlikely to improve soon. Glasgow, and Scotland’s real link with Ireland is Donegal, that is the real historical link why not go there?

  4. neilymochansmagicsponge on

    Evening fellow bhoys. Still gutted about the end of our CL journey for this year. On reflection, 5 goals lost, 4 of which down to defensive errors. The lessons hopefully learned.


    Been listening to Talk Sport for the last hour. Darren Gough and his side kick Adrian somebody or other. You would not believe the condescending manner in which they have been discussing our beloved Celtic FC. They’ve got NFL about to jump ship to any club in the Championship, i.e. Leeds or Leicester… Then they go on to pose the question “what’s the point of Celtic Fc?” ..thought best not to phone them up as could lose the proverbial rag.


    Honestly, these clowns just don’t have a clue.


    I also felt the Italian pundits on Sky Italia slightly disrespectful (Paolo Rossi & Luca Vialli) continually going on about the gulf in class between the 2 teams. Personally didn’t see it that way; we battered them in CP for nearly 70 mins, and controlled the first half last night, but couldn’t put the ball in the net. We must build on this experience.


    Glad that’s off my chest….rant over…here’s to next year’s journey..HH

  5. timsrgr8




    17:25 on 7 March, 2013




    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?



    *I don’t think that would be allowed for safety reasons.

  6. We should never be surprised what the rats in the Scottish press manage to scratch on their keyboards. After so many positives the first two questions to Neil last night were about Efe. Contrast that with the fear and fawning of Walter after many a humiliation in Europe and especially after Unirea at home.

  7. Celtic Mac can you explain that statement “Glasgow, and Scotland’s real link with Ireland is Donegal.”



    Thankfully, none of my antecedents come from there.

  8. Celtic Mac Agree about Donegal but there wouldn’t be a stadium there capable of holding the crowd, plus it would be more difficult to access.



    Jimbo67, ScosPatsFan has improved on my idea, in as much if the smaller Club, i.e. Hibs were agreeable to play one of their Home Games against Celtic in Dublin, they would land a huge financial windfall that could buy them a player. I’m sure their fans could be bought over by the projected windfall and it wouldn’t affect the Celtic Season Book at all.

  9. Fair play to Richard Gordon and Tom English though on Shortbread last night, very fair and really talked up the club and our achievements this year.

  10. Corkcelt



    As I say sold on idea but having lived on Edinburgh for 29 years – a dozen round the corner from Easter Road, I think it would nead a hard sell to the Hibbies.




  11. peterscarff,



    Glad to see you mention the Daddy of them all,Lonnie.



    He, to my mind, was the father of the British Rock movement.



    His deceptively simple concept of Skiffle, put the notion of guitar playing into the minds and hearts of normal young, working class lads.



    Lennon, Clapton etc.



    The genius was that all it took was a basic three chords and they were off.



    He even managed to sell American folk songs to the Americans, like Rock Island Line, Wabash Cannonball and many others.



    His first album, Showcase is a collectors item, which I unfortunately let slip frommt hands, not literally, years ago.

  12. No Bobby Does It Petta on

    Completely one-dimensional last night.



    90 minutes of “ball to Izzy, for an early cross into box”.



    Might have made sense if we had a big, bustling centre forward who was brave and effective in the air.






    Re Gary Hooper – his stock has went down with those CL performances. Contributed not a great deal.



    Special mention Matthews, who was tremendous before pulling up. The boy looked like a CL player.

  13. Don’t worry Peter, I’m sure the Donegal people on this Board are equally thankful.

  14. yesilvebeyaz on

    On the Celtic-Sparta Rotterdam game.Did Sparta not have an Irish inside forward(remember them ?) playing called Johnny Crossan ?

  15. pabloh_AKA_NEIL LENNON on

    No bobby



    Yep, hoops was anonymous both legs. He done great in both spartak games mind you, but pretty quiet in benfica & Barca games. Can’t see top clubs in England or international scouts being overly impressed (not that I care too much about that) but I was hoping for more.

  16. corkcelt



    17:37 on 7 March, 2013




    Sounds like a good idea to me, innovative and bold.


    If its successful can we play all our games outside Scotland ☑

  17. Neil Lennon ‏@OfficialNeil


    I retract my last tweet regarding the Sun..there were other papers running the negative spin so its unfair to single them out

  18. Johnny Crossan, who started his career with Derry City, did play for a couple of years with Sparta Rotterdam.

  19. pabloh_AKA_NEIL LENNON on

    Bada bing



    I find myself more and more deliberately avoiding forms of the MSM – newspapers and especially radio phone ins, they only annoy me.



    CQN & newsnow Celtic for me!

  20. pabloh_AKA_NEIL LENNON on




    What was the spin? Let me guess, having to rebuild for next season cos all our players will be sold?

  21. yesilvebeyaz




    18:08 on 7 March, 2013




    On the Celtic-Sparta Rotterdam game.Did Sparta not have an Irish inside forward(remember them ?) playing called Johnny Crossan ?



    *aye and we put in a bid for him but he chose Sunderland instead, and I didnae google that.



    jaymacsnowyou know csc

  22. Only problem I could see with a game in Ireland is that it won’t make Celtic a lot of money.



    We won’t get to use Croke Park so that leaves The Aviva. 50,000 capacity, at a sell out, we will be a few thousand above our average gate for this year. Deduct the FAI’s slice of the pie and you’re into at best break even.



    It’s a good idea in terms of marketing, something Celtic are not very good at, although there may be some objections from SB holders who would lose a match.

  23. Celtic Mac



    There isn’t a stadium big enough in Ireland or England for that matter that could hold all the Donegal boys who’d go to that match. Easy enough now going to Glasgow if you have the loot for it. Fly from Carrickfin Airport to Prestwick. You’ll be outside Parkhead in 90mins.

  24. I don’t want to put a dampner on the Celtic in Dublin thing.



    We played a pre season tourny there a couple of years ago, the attendances were shocking, I can’t see a game against spl opposition fairing any better.



    Just my opinion mind, would love to be proven wrong.

  25. An Dun, if it was an away match. i.e. if one of the smaller Scottish Clubs were willing to play their Home game against Celtic in the Aviva. They could trade an attendance of less then 10,000 for 40/50,000 .They could pocket half a million out of it, t’would set them up for the season and it wouldn’t affect any Celtic Park game, They are looking for ways to bring more money into the Scottish Game. This is one suggestion.

  26. David Prowse



    Prestwick Airport is up for sale, has been for over a year. Maybe one of our Board could buy it and rename it Celtic International?