Udinese

AN ITALIAN JOB?
Celtic will have to raise their game once again on Thursday, when Udinese arrive at Parkhead. The Italian club might not be regarded as among the great names of Serie A but season after season in recent years, they have managd to compete with the best and their showing against Arsenal in the qualifying round for the Champions League demonstrated their quality.
Neil Lennon has some tough choices to make, particularly at centre-back. Frankly, none of the possibles for those roles has been completely convincing since the start of the season, no matter who is paired with whom. And nobody will know that better than the guys vying for the positions. Fans tend to forget that players can have off-days, can have spells when their confidence is low or even periods when a niggling little injury – not enough to keep you out of the game – is just annoying enough to affect your form.
Dealing with a problem like that is a difficult juggling act for any manager. After all, these are the guys needed to keep him in a job! To let rip with a volley of castigation might damage a fragile ego even further; yet having to merely encourage and cajole players along on a regular basis is very frustrating. The former makes the manager feel better even if the latter is probably the more effective long-term solution to the situation.
At one time, of course, the full-backs would move in to help deal with any problems, coached as they were to be defenders first and attackers second. Nowadays, the opposite can very often be the case and the centre-backs can never rely on some help from that branch of the team. A shaky central defence causes trouble in other areas, particularly the midfield, which feels obliged to come back to help out. This then means that when the team does get possession, everyone is a long way from the opponent’s penalty box, the area within and around which most goals are scored.
This will be a crucial match on Thursday for Celtic. Everyone on the planet seems to know that the club’s record away from home in Europe is dreadful, which makes the collection of points in the home games even more important. Still, no matter what happens, it should be a great evening at Celtic Park, noted for its atmosphere on those European occasions.
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The Uefa website is very informative regarding the various European competitions. Due to their impressive coefficients, England (81.836), Spain (79.757) and Italy (64.338) are all allowed 4 teams in the Champions League, three of whom have automatic entry to the group stages, one having to attempt to qualify through one tie.
The next three in order, Germany, France and Russia, are allowed 3 representatives, two straight into the group stages, the other having to qualify; then comes a list of 9 teams all with two possibles–Ukraine, Romania, Portugal, Netherlands, Turkey, Greece, Switzerland, Belgium and Denmark. And next in line comes Scotland (coefficient 25.791) among the countries with one possible place.
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15th September…….Atletico Madrid 2 Celtic 0
24th September……Barcelona 5 Atletico Madrid 0

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One thought on “Udinese

  1. Udinese game is definitely going to be tough, even without Di Natale. They are a very fast flowing counter-attacking side, which they showed vs Arsenal and all last season in Serie A, against the Italian defensive norm.

    We have to attack to win the game (or at least not lose) but when they counter we need to have the pace to compete with their forwards.

    Watching Barcelona last night, when they don’t have fit defenders, they play defensive midfielders at CH. Barcelona don’t give the ball away – simple as that. They keep possession and press and press until the other team submisses. I am not by any stretch of the imagination comparing Celtic to Barcelona, but surely if we can fill the centre back positions with players comfortable on the ball, have the required pace and who will not hoof it away in a panic when closed down, then we should be on a platform to success as Jim suggests?

    With the amount of possession we are allowed home and away in the SPL, ball playing centre halves with quick fullbacks, should be the foundation for a successful side. Or at least cut out the silly errors and mistakes that went unpunished last Saturaday.

    Kayal and Mulgrew – new Celtic centre halves? You heard it here first……..

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