I was amused to read this morning of what Lazio expects when they visit Celtic Park tomorrow night. Kick and rush football, it seems. They don’t believe we play in a continental style. Indeed, our former midfielder Massimo Donatti told the media we don’t.
What he says is undeniably true, as far as it goes.
We may have ditched the steady pace, and the slow build up that characterised the Rodgers era, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t playing football with flare and imagination. If they expect long punts they’ve been watching the wrong team from Glasgow because that’s not Celtic under Lennon at all.
This team plays with real style. We are quicker getting the ball forward, but no less potent.
Rodgers’ slow pace was supposed to acclimatise us to European football better, but the results were so patchy that you can’t really say it succeeded. Our away form, in particular, has been better in this campaign and I’m inclined to suggest Lennon has it right.
Lazio seem to think we’re a typical Scottish side; this hasn’t been true about our style of play for a couple of years. Although Lennon has ditched the steady build up the emphasis is still on playing on the deck, movement off the ball, players anticipating one another … it is a more European style than the pace would suggest.
Nobody can watch Edouard and think we’re a long ball team; he is too good at gliding past defenders.
Our wingers are encouraged to run with the ball. Our midfielders burst into the box and hold the ball well. Lazio won’t know what hit them if you turn up expecting one dimensional football here. They surely must have watched us a few times?
Of course, it’s possible that they did … against Hibs and Livingston. Against the latter team we were dragged down to their level, playing a physical and long punt game that frankly embarrassed us. But it was not representative of our play overall.
We will have to be careful against Lazio, and play a little deeper, because they definitely have the players to exploit any gaps we leave. But I think we’ll shock them with how good we are on the ball, and how potent we are as an attacking side.
I cannot wait for the game to come.
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