Wherever This Celtic Team Is Trying To Get To, Tonight We Are Nowhere Near It.

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Let’s start with the apology, okay? The one that a lot of people owe to our defenders who were the subject of much bitching and moaning and criticism before this game. A lot went wrong tonight.

They are not accountable for much if any of it.

In fact, I thought the centre backs acquitted themselves well and if anyone is looking to blame them for that then they need to get real.

No, this game was won and lost where I feared it would be; in the midfield.

Their opener is a mistake we make in Scotland but get away with.

Having a defensive midfield player – McGregor himself – moving too far up the park that if he loses the ball you are vulnerable. The moment that pass went astray I knew what it meant.

At this level, that is disastrous.

The second was the fault of the increasingly lax Joe Hart.

A lot of people have been concerned about his propensity for losing concentration and doing stupid stuff for a while.

That tonight was a shocker from him, an absolute nightmare which gave them the momentum after VAR had, rightly, chopped a goal just seconds before. He should be made to pay the travel costs of every fan who showed up in Germany to watch that abject moment.

But it was won and lost, ultimately, in the middle of the park and in particular during a second half. It was as if the moment McGregor went off injured all sense of momentum was lost.

Yes, he was grossly culpable for the goal we lost, but the whole second half was characterised by a lack of organisation and graft which might have secured a different outcome.

For the third game in a row this team looks weary and leggy and that simply shouldn’t be happening this early in the season and it does not bode well for the next two months which are going to be absolutely brutal and in which we’ll have to be at our best.

As far as the Champions League goes, had we got the four points from the first nine I said we needed we’d be in the driver’s seat. Had we secured even one point from that game tonight I still think we’d have been in pretty good nick. We need two wins from two at Parkhead and to hope the Gods are smiling on us. That would guarantee us a shot.

But a shot at what?

Even if we qualify from this group, which is going to take some doing now, tonight was the kind of game this team would be winning if they were in that place where we hoped they would be. Instead, it was an all-too routine European away game beating, the kind we’ve been watching for years, with only the personnel changing.

We were miles off it tonight, especially in that second half where we did only one thing of any consequence. There was no aggression, no pressing, no battling for every ball.

Ange preaches “we never stop” but we’ve seen that we do stop, too often, and at this level that’s lethal. The truth is that this Celtic side is still capable of giving us Jekyll and Hyde … brilliance at times, yes, but capable of shooting itself in the foot with precise aim.

I could put this down to the McGregor mistake, and his subsequent injury, and a Joe Hart howler which should have him hanging his head in shame … but let’s be honest, that second half display got exactly what the performance of the whole team, but especially, the midfield, merited; nothing at all.

Too many folks just weren’t at the races tonight.

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  • Don Cowie says:

    Business as usual, we get hope after a few really good performances and then it comes crashing down. Celtic don’t look fit enough for this level, O’riley and Hatate mirror Rogic where 65 to 70 mins is their contribution. Chins up and on to the next one.

  • Johnny Green says:

    Joe Hart should not have been between the sticks tonight as he has made too many errors lately. He does not need rested, he needs to be dropped in favour of Siegrist. Sorry Joe, I have a lot of time for you, but you have just not been good enough recently.

  • Starman says:

    We’re out of our depth in the Champions League against a side that Shaktaar PUMPED BY TAKING CHANCES!! Having said that if Madrid win their 1st 5 games & we beat Leipzig & Shaktaar nxt 2 then we’re thru fur DEFO with 7 pts!! Wan things fur sure the FILTH will STILL be on ZERO BAWAHAHAHAHAHA!!

  • S Thomas says:

    Bad day at the office for a few of our players tonight, and the champions league is unforgivable if not at the races. Thankfully our next 2 matches are at home, but we need a far better performance than tonight, if we are to do anything in any of them. Disappointed with the performance. Here’s hoping we take our medicine, and write the wrongs for next week.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Couldnae defend properly, far too open at the back. Utterly careless 2nd goal. Still no takin most of our chances. Now Ange sayin mcregors no lookin good. That’s a massive blow for us domestically as well as Europe. Could see the difference in that team when he went aff tonight. Not a good night for us at all.

  • Mark B says:

    This is top level football. I love Ange but we need to be tighter at top level away from home. It was 3-1 plus a goal that should have stood plus a close offside. In my view 5-1 was close to being a reality there, we got off with a hammering. Yes we were that well beaten totally outplayed for large parts of that match. We did create chances but everytime they attacked we looked vulnerable.

  • Davy says:

    Too many straight passes into midfield where our players had backs to goal allowed RB to counter attack at will, Jenz passing was really poor. McGregor with touch like an elephant in build up to first goal. Maeda completely ineffective. Hart’s distribution terrible. On plus side another strong display from Taylor and Welsh never let anyone down. As James rightly points out the mistakes we make domestically and get away with will be punished at this level.

  • Pcelt says:

    I’ve said it for ages,this is a good spl CELTIC team but a totally inept third rate European team,these European teams are fitter,stronger and more technically organised than CELTIC.We have to admit we are nowhere near champions league or europa league quality.

    • says:

      Playing 4 men up Front away in Europe. ORILEY up beside front 3 is embarassing 4 5 1 next time. Please Ange

  • John smith says:

    Hate to say it ,but Leipzig will beat us again next week,,, anyway what’s the point in getting to the last 16?,,best bet is finishing 3rd ,see what the Europa League brings,,,,

  • kingmurdy says:

    we looked off tonight..becuse we were outplayed by the better team…made up of better individual players….simple as that…
    hart’s error was atrocious…calmac fukd up…caused his own injury…seem to remember, he was to blame for shaktar’s equaliser too..
    at this level,we are just not good enough, collectively or individually…i think anyone who thinks differently is delusional…
    we are a bit better than the huns….and that’s it….big fish in a fukn puddle…and it’s all we are ever gonna be…when i accepted that-even before the match was over,,,the pain started to ease…and now it’s gone…

  • Saulgoodman says:

    Maeda never a player , hart not good enuf lately, but 2 certain starters on sat as per , 2 strikers at the club yeah 2 . Celtic were lucky tonight like the huns last night absolutely sfa chance of beating them next week , I’m looking to jan window already , if we don’t beat that mob to the league this season…….

  • Geoff says:

    Can’t count how many times over the years I’ve said it but in Europe we must lose more goals than any other team when we give away possession deep in the opposition half.
    Everyone and their Granny was telling Kwasi that he was wrong but he went ahead.
    Every manager/coach changes their tactics depending on the style of play of the opposition…except one??

  • Dennis McLaughlan says:

    I do agree with you James with your piece. However we have an alarming lack of pace in defence we have lost ar least 2 goals due too our defence unable to match the running of our opponents. This has to be fixed. Joe Hart accepted the blame for their 2nd goal but then said it’s the way Ange wants to play. REALLY.

  • Martin H. says:

    Spot on James, Mcgregor bad first touch, I think it’s time for a wee change, between the sticks, Joe was massive last season, but I think it is time to give somebody else a shot.

  • Martin says:

    We’re not CL level. Sadly had we played in a different order we probably would’ve beaten Liepzig, they really were looking hopeless last season and start of this. Standard, they change manager in time for our game and become good again. The Shaktar draw is what’s hurt us more, to be honest.

    Still… 30+ years of me watching Celtic in Europe and almost every time I see us spurn glorious chances then lose. We need to turn into a team that puts our chances away. We don’t get 25+ chances in these games, we can’t waste 20. Calmac for the first goal reminded me of Sno vs AC Milan. Gives ball away on their 18 yard line, but has pulled team shape so askew that they can counter easily. It’s great to be an attacking side, but it’s better if we’re also not naive as feck.

  • Charlie Green says:

    Due to the tactics the backs are consistently caught out of position. That space either side of the goals is where the damage is done when playing against strong opposition.

  • John Paul Bruen says:

    Usual mince . Never anything positive

  • scouse bhoy says:

    this playing out from the goalie is a disaster waiting to happen you see it every week where some goalie makes a blunder it happened last night with ajax. joe hart made some good saves tonight it is what a goalie is there for get this passing from the goalie binned please.

  • Iljas Baker says:

    I don’t think you can lay the blame mostly on the midfield. Backline frequently caught out of position. Wingers easily nullified at this level where you tend to get faster and more technically gifted opposition fullbacks. That also means our full backs don’t have much of an out ball. Maeda and Kyoga can’t take players on, they need to be running on to the ball (just like Abada) that’s a great limitation at this level. Jota’s trickery doesn’t work at this level as much as it does at SPFL level. I think we need to play differently (and I don’t mean park the bus) against quality opposition. I thought our off-the-ball play was particularly poor last night due to lack of confidence. Will experience at CL level this year carry over to next year? Might be different players, different manager – I’d rather have better players all over the park and a strategy for beating counter attacks by fast, technically good teams. Experience is only one aspect of a wiing team.

  • Iljas Baker says:

    winning team

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