Celtic Will Not Play A Better, Or More Cynical, Team This Season Than We Did Last Night.

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Before the home game, when a lot of people were getting very het up over a shirt our visitors intended to wear, my initial reaction was to dismiss it as nothing, and perhaps even put it down as a backhanded compliment. I thought talk of what Atletico Madrid was could be left in the carpark as in irrelevance to the game we were about to play.

But the closer we got to the match the more that shirt stunt annoyed it, as it became clear that it was, in fact, a calculated insult.

I thought their performance, on the night, their antics, casual thuggery and all-round behaviour, more than merited the scorn that most Celtic fans of a certain generation still had for them. They justified it in spades.

Last night was worse. Much worse. In the studio and elsewhere there are references to “the dark arts” and I understand that exactly.

The sheer cynicism of their team and their manager is astonishing mostly because it is also un-necessary.

I used to love watching Barcelona in their pomp and swagger when Messi, Neymar and Suarez played up front, one of the deadliest forward lines ever to take the field.

Yet watching the Brazilian was always bittersweet because you knew this was a generational talent, the sort of player who could grace any game, on any pitch, anywhere else in the world … and yet he frequently behaved like a delinquent, throwing himself about, trying to get people booked, diving, niggling, never able to just play his game with the skills he undoubtedly had.

Watching Atletico Madrid last night as their multi-talented squad full of World Cup winners from various countries should have been a sheer football pleasure even in that it was Celtic on the wrong end of it.

But it was tempered by the negative way they went about it, and that clearly started from the top, from that toerag of a manager and his instructions.

Instead, that team is ugly to watch for all its talents and the grace of some of its individual players. Their performance last night was beyond belief in its nastier aspects, and there were very many of them, and the officials seemed to wilt in the face of their behaviour instead of standing up to it.

The red card is a joke, the clear result of the histrionics on and off the pitch which spooked the officials. Far worse, to me, was the booking for Palma because he was yards away from the ref when he objected to the red card …. the same ref their players had surrounded and were jostling each other to roast when he didn’t initially flash it.

They all walked away clean, having gotten our man sent off and another booked. Their manager looked well pleased with it.

He is a hard individual to like, although that didn’t stop a BBC writer doing a hero-worship piece on him after the Parkhead game.

The thing is, we won’t face a better football team than them this season, and although we have three games against the Ibrox mob coming up I don’t believe we’ll come up against a more cynical one either. They have mastered those dark arts.

I hope someone sends them crashing out of the competition in the very next round.

I will enjoy that. I will enjoy that one Hell of a lot, whilst I dream of us one day getting our own revenge.

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  • SSMPM says:

    Cynical is a bang on word to describe them, their behaviour and their manager. It really is a shame because they have a really good squad of players and I had grown admiration and respect for them over the years. Sadly no more. I too hope they crash out and burn preferably as the result of a dodgy refereeing decision and that your dream comes true though don’t stay awake until then, it may take some time. HH

  • Martin says:

    UEFA 2023/24 guidelines are that when players surround (ie 2 or more players) a referee in protest or dissent at least one of them is booked. 7 Am players were round the ref at one point after Maeda’s challenge. An average of 4 or 5 were round him at other points. Zero bookings.

    Waving an imaginary card is a yellow card offence. A did this often. Calma is even seen speaking to the ref about it, pointing and explaining what they did. No bookings.

    Atlético Madrid coaching staff encroach VAR area to interrupt (successfully I might add) ref’s review of the screen. Red card offence. No card shown.

    Palma is several yards away after his teammate gets a harsh red and asks for clarification. Yellow card.

    Yeah, AM were “cynical” but they were also very fortunate that Simeone’s brother was the ref.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    The real problem in Euro football these days is cowardly and in my opinion sometimes even corrupt officials favouring clubs from the large European Leagues. UEFA have given up on their Champions’ League Competition being a level playing field.
    Most teams in pots 3 & 4 are only there to pick up the money and fall into the Europa League which is their level from a competitive point of view.
    That what’s disappointing from Celtic, we look as if we’re going to miss out on 3rd place in our group, unless there is a big improvement performance wise, in our final two games.
    the main thing now is to concentrate on the League at home, and hope that the board will at last realise we need a couple of experienced players to help our young prospects when coming up against the skill and sometimes the cynicism of the top Champions’ League Teams.

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