Celtic’s performance last night gets better the more you watch it.
And it gets better the more you look at the raw numbers involved. Possession wise, we had 60%, which for a match against a top European side is quite incredible. We had more shots. We had more on target. We had more corners. All of that stacks up to a great display.
Many included this fixture in their over 2.5 goals tips, and whilst there was just one goal in it, it was the passing stats that truly push this beyond any European display we’ve seen up until now; they are incredible.
As a team we reached a completion ratio of 92% … think about that.
Our high octane pressing cut off the supply of passes between their players, but they were unable to do the same to us. On a night when clear heads were needed, our players took that little extra second on the ball which has evaded us recently … and it paid dividends.
No team playing in Europe – 32 of them in total – did as well as Celtic did with their possession. We outstripped them all, playing under immense pressure with a whole first team squad on the sidelines. Individual players shone; Ajer and Lustig had pass completion ratios of 98% … near perfect displays which are a credit to them. According to the same stats, Simunovic completed every single pass he made; I recall one mistake, but I’m clearly misremembering it because these stats guys usually don’t get stuff like this wrong.
Our defence is the most maligned part of this team, but these numbers present a picture of a team that was very comfortable playing out from the back on a night where they were under the most intense pressure. For so young a side to have performed like this, well the manager and his coaching team deserves the highest praise.
Our slow build-up can be tough to watch at times; a lot of fans think we should be moving the ball up the pitch quicker. Against SPL opposition that strategy will succeed more often than not, but on the European nights we need patience and that’s what our team has been doing in training and during those league games when we’ve occasionally been frustrated.
We’re getting good at this stuff. The numbers don’t lie.
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