A Clinical Defeat

Going into this evenings game I felt like most that considering we were able to push a very strong Barcelona side away from home & to win at home, we’d have a very good chance against Juventus.
Although I felt that other than Barcelona, Juventus were the best team we’d face so far in this european run, I still believed that we’d have at least have enough to take the game back to Turin hoping for at least another 90 minutes to show the rest of European football what we have done thus far.
We have competed above expectations against far more financially & domestically dominant sides and with this experience I firmly believed we had enough in our locker to push the Bianconeri close this game.
In doing so we had to have our best players fit & fighting and with the doubts of Izaguirre, Samaras, Forrest & Ambrose, I understood this to be a tall task, however take into consideration the “first team” players we had out against Barcelona, any side without these should still be enough to push the Serie A champions close.
When news broke that Samaras wouldn’t make the team and Ambrose would, this gave some doubt as to how the side would match Juventus however the others that made the first eleven also gave some positives that we’d go into this game with an attack minded approach.
After what was a usual nerve tingling rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone, a heart thumping roar during Zadok the Priest Champions League anthem, the bhoys started well.
Within the first few moments we had got Wanyama in shooting range leading to a corner, we had the crowd firmly in voice however with that we had also witnessed something which we have failed to see in many a recent game – A goal from the away side which turned the roars to silence.
A defensive lapse by Ambrose saw Alessandro Matri ease into the box and slip the ball underneath the oncoming Forster and although on first it had looked as if Kelvin Wilson cleared on the line & Claudio Murchisio stepped and slammed home, It was Matri’s effort which gave Juventus the lead.
With this early setback though, I was impressed by how the team responded. We continued to retain the ball. Whenever it was lost we fought to regain possession and created many a chance throughout the first half. Although Juventus showed signs of creating further opportunities, it was Celtic that would trouble Buffon more. Especially Gianluigi Buffon.
My own personal displeasure was that the chances we created, the pressure we put Buffon under, It was mainly just wide or straight down the world cup winners throat which for a top goalkeeper, he mopped up fairly with ease.
After half time, I had tweeted that due to the immense work rate the side had put into the first half, It would take a momentous effort in the second half to give us an edge.
Although we had a great chance with an Ambrose header, that was never the case and as the game wore on, Juventus showed their class by adding another two goals winning the game what looks easily 3-0.
What should be noted is that throughout the game, there was plenty of set-pieces chances for Celtic in which the officials allowed the away side to man handle & rugby tackle the opposing forwards and without sounding too much against the referee, should he have acted upon one of these many incidents, it may have been a different game. Should a chance have been created by a decision given by the officials, it may have stopped the likes of Stephan Lichtsteiner carrying this forward throughout the game.
No matter what, I don’t believe that this was the sole cause for our defeat.
A few pointers I personally would have to raise and this is no way a direct criticism towards the management or team.
It was a HUGE gamble to play Efe Ambrose. Such a short space of time between winning the African Cup of Nations in South Africa on Sunday evening to travelling & arriving on the morning of a HUGE champions league game was always a risk and looking at the goals, it would appear that the Nigerian was possibly at fault for 2 of 3 goals. Please bear in mind that I blame absolutely no fault on the player nor manager. It was a risk which may have worked out on another day.
Some would say that we missed Samaras immensely. It may well be the case, however should Samaras have been included (even on the bench) we may not have seen some of what I’d say was quality football against a world renowned team. Should Samaras have played a lot of our play may have been put straight up front and some of the intricate passing we saw tonight may not have been seen.
Let’s face it, tonight was always going to be a tall task. Juventus have went to Ukraine & Chelsea and earned very positive results and like typical Italian teams they’d always be difficult to break down.
Looking at our ventures in Europe this season, the job, the scene’s this side have given us supporters is something dreams are made of. We finally broke our European win duck, we took Barcelona very close to another draw away from home PLUS we shocked the whole of WORLD Football by beating this Barcelona side which millions across the world would class as the best EVER club side in the world.
Although the result may not have been what we’d have dreamt of, we can stand together proud that as a team & support, we’ve faced some good times this season and no matter what in Turin, we go onto next season in good spirits & plenty of enthusiasm.
Should anyone reading this blog be on Twitter, Feel free to read my favourites to see what some recognised people feel of tonight’s result. I feel this goes some way to showing what mark we have made in this years Champions League.
Hail Hail & Each & every one of you Celtic supporters can be very proud. Whether you supported within the stadium, at home, In Scotland or overseas.
Proud to be a Celtic Supporter.

Comments

  1. As a Juventus fan, you had my respect after reading your article. Remember, Conte and team did not took your team for granted and respected your team. See you in 2 weeks time

    1. Many thanks for your reply Philip. I think that Conte’s gameplan showed respect for Celtic. Your defence stood up firm, sometimes verging on giving away maybe a penalty however it was your clinical finishing & our mistakes in defence that shone through. Should you be over in Turin, look after our visiting support. Hail Hail

  2. As a Juventus fan, you had my respect after reading your article. Remember, Conte and team did not took your team for granted and respected your team. See you in 2 weeks time

    1. Many thanks for your reply Philip. I think that Conte’s gameplan showed respect for Celtic. Your defence stood up firm, sometimes verging on giving away maybe a penalty however it was your clinical finishing & our mistakes in defence that shone through. Should you be over in Turin, look after our visiting support. Hail Hail

  3. I have to respectfully disagree with Kraljski when he places no blame on the manager or the player for Ambrose’s performance. Neil said after the game that it was a gamble that didn’t pay off but it was a gamble he should never have taken. There was no need for it, it was a stupid decision and much as I am a Neil Lennon supporter and applaud what he’s done with the team, I hold him fully responsible for this massive error in judgement. The player in question could not possibly be prepared for the game and cost us a goal inside 3 minutes. This had a huge bearing on the eventual outcome.
    The assistant referees behind the goal line proved once again they are utterly useless. Action should have been taken against some Juventus players for clear fouls whilst defending set pieces. Did they not see the same as everyone else? I stop short of accusing the officials of favouring one team over another but, c’mon, what was that all about? Would a penalty award have made a difference? I don’t know but it wouldn’t have harmed our cause.
    I like James Forrest, he’ll be a huge asset in the future. Should have been hooked at half time last night though. All things considered, we were beaten by a superior team. No shame in that and well done Juve.
    Putting this mornings disappointment aside, we have had a terrific run in the champions league this season and hopefully we can exit Turin in two weeks time with pride. There’s always next season to look forward to, along with a league victory to celebrate in May. I suspect other teams in Glasgow might be envious of that.

    1. Just woke up and in second thoughts If agree with you AlTheTim. I think it was just a defiance on my part to say “mistakes were made, lets appreciate where we have come & move on” but even the manager would be willing to accept that he got it wrong.
      It’s still sore watching hooper, Brown etc getting man handled in the box. Your right the additional officials seem to get paid for nothing.

  4. I have to respectfully disagree with Kraljski when he places no blame on the manager or the player for Ambrose’s performance. Neil said after the game that it was a gamble that didn’t pay off but it was a gamble he should never have taken. There was no need for it, it was a stupid decision and much as I am a Neil Lennon supporter and applaud what he’s done with the team, I hold him fully responsible for this massive error in judgement. The player in question could not possibly be prepared for the game and cost us a goal inside 3 minutes. This had a huge bearing on the eventual outcome.
    The assistant referees behind the goal line proved once again they are utterly useless. Action should have been taken against some Juventus players for clear fouls whilst defending set pieces. Did they not see the same as everyone else? I stop short of accusing the officials of favouring one team over another but, c’mon, what was that all about? Would a penalty award have made a difference? I don’t know but it wouldn’t have harmed our cause.
    I like James Forrest, he’ll be a huge asset in the future. Should have been hooked at half time last night though. All things considered, we were beaten by a superior team. No shame in that and well done Juve.
    Putting this mornings disappointment aside, we have had a terrific run in the champions league this season and hopefully we can exit Turin in two weeks time with pride. There’s always next season to look forward to, along with a league victory to celebrate in May. I suspect other teams in Glasgow might be envious of that.

    1. Just woke up and in second thoughts If agree with you AlTheTim. I think it was just a defiance on my part to say “mistakes were made, lets appreciate where we have come & move on” but even the manager would be willing to accept that he got it wrong.
      It’s still sore watching hooper, Brown etc getting man handled in the box. Your right the additional officials seem to get paid for nothing.

  5. All respect to you for the balanced article. Juve and us, fans, have respect for Celtic and never underestimated your team. There is no doubt that I was left impressed with the way you played as I was kind of expecting Juve to fully dominate across the pitch, since this is the way we play, possession football. Playing away from home in such an intimidating stadium, Conte had other tactics in mind.
    What left me more impressed is that fact that the game commentator was saying that the whole Celtic team cost only 18 million.
    I do not like to talk about refs, and I would understand if some people complain about the ref, but watching serie A week in week out, I found nothing wrong with what happened. These things are seen every weekend in Serie A. Plus, according to the FIFA rules, no penalty can be given if the ball is not in play, and most of the pushing and shoving was before the corner was even played.
    Again, good game and see you in three weeks.

  6. All respect to you for the balanced article. Juve and us, fans, have respect for Celtic and never underestimated your team. There is no doubt that I was left impressed with the way you played as I was kind of expecting Juve to fully dominate across the pitch, since this is the way we play, possession football. Playing away from home in such an intimidating stadium, Conte had other tactics in mind.
    What left me more impressed is that fact that the game commentator was saying that the whole Celtic team cost only 18 million.
    I do not like to talk about refs, and I would understand if some people complain about the ref, but watching serie A week in week out, I found nothing wrong with what happened. These things are seen every weekend in Serie A. Plus, according to the FIFA rules, no penalty can be given if the ball is not in play, and most of the pushing and shoving was before the corner was even played.
    Again, good game and see you in three weeks.

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