So we are out of the Europa League and back to domestic football to concentrate upon this season!
Whilst participation in the Europa League this season caused much debate amongst the ‘Tic support, after last night’s result and performance what is the general consensus on how we fared?
Pre-match I feared a beating by probably a 2 goal margin at least. We were up against a team sitting pretty in Serie A and who were ‘unleashing’ their stars such as Di Natale on us, whilst we lacked a few players who would likely have pushed for starting slots i.e. Matthews, Commons and Ledley.
Apres-match I sat impressed by our performance, in particular those from Forster & Samaras(for 45mins at least and yes I did say Samaras), and disappointed we had not taken the win! Today I view it as another European hard luck case, but really as one of those whom was not too enamoured with our participation in the tournament IF it led to us struggling domestically whilst taking part, not too disgruntled that we are out of the Europa League, as long as we get things right in the SPL starting on Sunday against St Johnstone.
Players gave a good account of themselves, a few stray passes and bad miss by Hooper in first half aside, we were not really overawed, overrun and outplayed as has often been the case away from home in Europe. My biggest gripe is that our most dangerous problem always looked likely to come from within, and from a wayward cross field pass, defensive mess up or the like. Cha Du Ri in my opinion is an absolute disaster – his positioning is rarely good and he is always trying to atone for poor positioning. He is costing us goals and the loss of Mark Wilson & Matthews meant we had no real option with him…but the sooner Lustig comes in and Matthews is fit the better. Cha just is not up to the grade and needs moved on as when Lustig arrives we are going to be well covered for the right back spot.
In the absence of our esteemed colleague, the Sweenster, I’ll give a verdict on how I feel the team fared……
Forster 9 Some blinding saves to keep the game alive
Cha 5 Poor 90mins and totally at fault for goal
Majstorovic 8 Apart from late fresh air swipe I thought he played well – cleared lines, nothing fancy but no disaster either
Wanyama 7 Growing in the Celtic shirt and will be a great servant for us – few stray passes lost him a mark
Mulgrew 7 Solid game, just lacks yard of pace to make him more of a threat attacking
Brown 7 Not outstanding but covered a good bit of play
Ki 7 Part of a midfield that was doing a lot of good work for large part of game
Forrest 7 Wouldve liked to see him run at the Udinese defence more especially after Diablo got a yellow – still a key player
Kayal 6 Just thought he wasn’t as imposing as he should’ve been
Samaras 9 Score based on first 45mins when he was our best player by a mile. Always looked a threat and had them on back foot.
Hooper 7 Should’ve scored before he did and tried to busy himself in a lone show up front
So as is often the case with Celtic we do well when our backs are firmly against the wall. Let’s hope the performance last night will give the team the resolve and determination now to carry things through to the SPL and in the next few weeks we can eat into the gap between us and Rangers, and fingers crossed come Thursday 29th sit top of the league table again! I applaud most of the team for last night and it is good to see such players as Majstorovic and Samaras show vastly improved performances in recent weeks, following bouts of criticism from within the green legions.
For it’s a Grand Old Team!