Celtic V Barcelona – Pre Match Blog


Well here we go again, Barcelona at home in the Champions League, I was there myself last year just got in for the display starting, main stand lower nearest the Jock Stein end, and I have never witnessed the ground like that or an atmosphere like it, I think anyone there that night will remember it for the rest of their life, it was just amazing, I don’t know if there are words to describe that night

So Tuesday 1st October, we do it all over again, and Barcelona have travelled with just 19 players, they are without a few defenders and Messi is out not available either, but they do have Neymar, and he is a class apart, I think Barcelona could play one at the back and we would still struggle, seriously going forward is where they are different class. Are they the best team in the World right now,  I don’t know about that, but they are up there and are for sure the biggest club in the world

So who is missing for them, Leo Messi, Jordi Alba, Javier Mascherano, Carles Puyol, Isaac Cuenca and Ibrahim Afellay all won’t play. You look at them missing and it gives you hope but you have to keep in mind who they still have available, for any team to lose a player like Messi and still be ok to go, it says a lot about the squad. The last time we played them I was in awe of how little the players moved, they stood still and the ball just got pinged about the park, and I remember thinking “I hope we don’t go chasing shadows” and we never, we let them have the ball 30 yards from goal, we pressed but not onto the man, and we kept them to half chances and long shots, I think this would be the plan again

For us Ledley is out and that is a blow, I think we need a Ledley in there, but I think we will go with a midfield 3 Brown, Mulgrew and Commons, Forrest and Sammy on either wing, up front, go ahead and guess, AC Milan game I said Pukki and Stokes started. Back 4 we have, I think it’s a tossup between Matthews and Lustig if Forrest makes it, I think the back 4 will be what it was against Kilmarnock otherwise

We need to be compact, I think we have to spread the team out and stop them hitting it wide and force them through the middle. My main concern is Izzy at left back, he needs to really up his game on Tuesday, I think he will play and on his day will handle anyone, I just hope he is switched on

On these nights in Europe players seem to give an extra 10% to the Manager and fans, they don’t need lifted, a huge team talk isn’t needed, tactical stuff sure, but Lenny will just tell them to be tactically aware and go and relax, the players will know what they are doing, they each have a job and we need 11 men doing it well to get a result here. I think if we win this one, we will win the other two home games, I think 9 points will get us out this group, Ajax are going through a bad spell just now also. I think we can win all 3 home games and get out this group.

It will be big, it will be huge, I am excited already, and I only wish I was going this year, but I will be doing live text updates via TCN should it be in place. Not sure yet. To all who are going, get the voices going from first to last, 12th man, and carry the bhoys over the line again, the best fans in the world, we can carry these players to victory, when the crowds are low the players play less, on these nights, the players can become legends, let’s see how can become a legend on Tuesday, Tony Watt will be remembered for his goal, I hope the kid has more to come, Wanyama raised his stock that night, we need players who want it, need it, believe in it, feel it, will bleed for it, and I think we can do it. I am going 2-1 Celtic again

To remind us all, here is last seasons game highlights, let’s do this again, make moments


We all know what this means, grown men cry, let’s carry the bhoys over the line once more



5 thoughts on “Celtic V Barcelona – Pre Match Blog

  1. I really enjoyed that Shaun. I would like to make a couple of comments. First, I was not at the last game but even watching it on TV one could see and feel how special a night it was. Can I just say that though it is up there with the best of them, there have been others in days of yore, so to speak, that had as good an atmosphere even though the arenas at that time were not so conducive to dramatic display. Nor did TV cameras have the quality and technology to capture the reality of the occasion. I am thinking, strangely enough, that perhaps two such games were not even at Parkhead, Leeds and Racing. I could also argue that for the same reasons, the full atmosphere of some Scottish league games, and not always Celtic v Rangers but Aberdeen, Hibs, Hearts, Dundee United, in past years was never captured for posterity. In the end I will never really be able to properly compare because I experienced those games in the flesh while Barcelona was merely a TV transmission. I am well aware from my days going to games that the two bear not an iota of comparison.

    “The last time we played them I was in awe of how little the players moved, they stood still and the ball just got pinged about the park, and I remember thinking “I hope we don’t go chasing shadows” and we never, we let them have the ball 30 yards from goal, we pressed but not onto the man, and we kept them to half chances and long shots, I think this would be the plan again”

    Taking the first part, I remember from a very tender age having it drummed into me to make the ball do the work. If memory serves me right, I am sure Big Jock used to mention this a lot too. But I take issue with the notion “of how little the players moved”. If you look closely at Barcelona, the players may seem to move very little because they can work moves in fairly limited spaces. However, to think they are not moving is to be sucked into the trap they lay. They are constantly on the move and rarely is it actually the player on the ball. Messi probably achieves so much, not because he scores goals, and I would never be so idiotic as to belittle his contribution in that area, but because he buzzes about non-stop looking to make a pass or to receive one. Again I may be attributing too much to the great man, yet who would dare contradict me, I am sure it was Stein who said it is not what you do on or with the ball that is most important, it is what you do when you do not have it. I have tried to analyse Celtic and others when they attempt to replicate the Barcelona style. Criticism often centres around poor ball control, lack of vision, speed and other weaknesses. But, for me the overriding flaw is the lack of movement into open space by team-mates for the player on the ball to either progress himself or to make a pass. I am well aware I may be stood up and shot for this, but one player who constantly is in this situation is Kris Commons. For the one time he makes a useful contribution, there are ten others where the team gets less or no benefit because he either loses the ball or his pass goes to an opposition player. For me that is down to Kris trying to keep the ball himself when he should not or to his team-mates lack of alertness and readiness to move even when not on the ball. When such movement is executed with speed in small or confined spaces, it is made to look intricate and bamboozling. But it is the movement off the ball rather than the “intricate passing” that is doing most of the bamboozling. That is what compelled Archie Gemmill in April 1970 to describe Celtic’s football as “chasing shadows”. And that for me is where Celtic teams of today do not just fall down but often collapse. We do not have enough players thinking ahead and looking for space when the ball is not at their feet. The majority either wait until the ball comes to them before becoming active instead of thinking of a positions where the ball could be passed to them. Consequently, we see Celtic players either receiving passes when crowded out by opposition players or being closed down almost immediately they have received the pass. Making space is what counts. And those on the ball concentrate too much on what they would like to do, rather than primarily having an eye for the movement elsewhere. Combine the strengths of these tactics and you have Barcelona. Combine the weaknesses and, well you have nearly every other team in comparison in recent years. They used to say of the Lisbon Lions that they were so aware of the movement of others and especially that of planned combinations between individual players e.g. Gemmell and Lennox that they could pass the ball without even looking because they expected a team-mate to be ready for it. Bobby Murdoch was a genius in midfield but without the fast thinking and the space making of the Chalmerses, the Lennoxes, the Hughses, Aulds and Johnstones much of his gifted ability could have been lost to football. Football is a simple game. That is what a lot of fans never noticed, for example, about Jinky. He played a simple game of passing except when he knew he could do it himself. But then, he had an exceptional talent and everybody remembers his maizey runs and dribbling but when examined closely his real skill was his phenomenal awareness of the play around him. The spectacular may stand out but it is the simple that is the essence. Let the ball do the work. All footballers have to do is watch where it is going – that could have been a Stein philosophy too. But then I always thought the Big Man repeated a lot of what I said anyway :).

    “and we never, we let them have the ball 30 yards from goal, we pressed but not onto the man, and we kept them to half chances and long shots, I think this would be the plan again”. I have to say, Shaun, that it rather terrifies me if we are to rely on limiting Barcelona to long range shots to be successful on Tuesday. We may have succeeded in keeping them restricted to efforts from thirty yards out last season but from what I have seen, I would maintain that could be very much the exception rather than the rule. I watch highlights of the Spanish, French and German league games and if there is one thing that stands out is they can and are certainly not afraid when circumstances demand to shoot from thirty or even more yards. This season alone which is in its infancy, I have seen dozens of “screamers” and they are not all “flooks”. No I would not be content to let Barcelona “have their way” as long as it is thirty yards or more. I believe we have been fortunate that till now we may not had to deal with the best of their long range shooting. Examination of seeming lack of high scoring and subsequent defeats towards the end of last season and the start of this one, I would maintain that they became over-confident in their ability to simply walk the ball into the goals. That has begun to change again in recent weeks and they are as happy to “let fly” as they are to pass the ball to each other all the way over the line. So, no, I would be nervous of them having it all their own way in any area where a ball has the physical potential to go from foot to goal. Again, I think it is a comparison that could be made with Celtic to highlight why we do not normally reach the same standards. Other than “set pieces” how often does any Celtic player have a long range shot? Kris Commons may now and then but even he, with the power and ability he has, is limited in his number of attempts. Charlie Mulgrew, for example, should be “having a go” as soon as he sees two white upright posts. O.K., perhaps the ball may end up in London Road several times but some are bound to land below the crossbar. Surely this is a better percentage than trying to go all the way to the line only to lose the ball one way or another which is what we do time and time again. Then we wonder why we are not scoring. On the whole, I feel we are really poor in this area. We DO seem to think we have to walk the ball in all the time. If Lennon is trying to emulate Barcelona’s style in some way, and I see glimpses now and then that make me think he just might be, then he should realise they will “have a go” from anywhere when the occasion demands. I am convinced the goalkeeper would make an attempt at goal from his own box, if he thought there was a possibility of scoring. As I said above, one cannot simply concentrate on the spectacular, the special. The every-day bread and butter is at the heart of any game and that is scoring by any means at your disposal. Icing is a fabulous decoration but it is a total waste of time if you do not have a cake to put it on. Neil, look at the whole Barcelona style, not just the fancy icing. If we do that, we could produce a surprise or two tomorrow. I am sure we will anyway. In the final analysis, the Celtic Family always blows everybody away at Parkhead by portraying the sport of football at its purest for both participants and onlookers. Those who are privileged to be there, please enjoy it for those of us who can not.

    H H

  2. WOW…Impressed me there bud!!!
    Your tactical brain is something else, you sure you are not an ex player? 😀

    When I say they stood still and let the ball move, they did and players not on the ball would jog into position. They must work on this “Total Football” night and Day; it is the ethos of the way Barcelona have played for many a year now. They let the ball move against lesser teams who really can’t hurt them. Sadly Celtic are not a team who will press them high up the park and keep possession like we did in Italy against AC Milan, AC played a good game against us, they sat in and countered us, but that is the Italian way, boring but usually get the break. Remember Scotland V Italy a few years ago? They got the break…

    Commons for me has the vision in the team, he can split a defence and has a great shot, like Mulgrew I would be saying to both of them, it opens up, have a shot and tell the striker to chase EVERYTHING going goal bound. Remember Scott McDonald’s goal Vs Ac Milan at home? Someone had a shot and McDonald followed in.


    This is something I would be asking the players to do tomorrow.
    The danger for us is them in attack; they just move the ball so quick in and around the box. The 2-1 game we did frustrate them bit most shots were crowded out, snap shots or long range.

    Great reply, brilliant read love my football Arthur, could read opinion all day. I think this is what I love about this game so much, everyone has a differing opinion. Very healthy thing it is.
    Hope you enjoy the game and look out for my live text messaging #TCNLiveBlog on Twitter. I will be doing live text commentary.

    1. Cheers Sean. I played a lot of football at school and college but never even got into junior or amateur. Maybe I had an eye for things. I know I was very self opinionated and often bucked the trend. But like you say, discussing the game is really what makes it. When you think on it, only viewing something is not in itself of any value. It is like reading a book simply for the story. The real benefit of reading is to gain knowledge in order to develop understanding or appreciation.

      Anyway, I am looking forward to tomorrow with the usual hope of the despairing. You know, sometimes I wish we had no chance whatsoever. Then you are as prepared as it is possible for the worst. This way, the flame is always flickering yet burning your bloody fingers. It will be interesting to compare my rash judgements with your summaries. It will make for some additional enjoyment or distraction whichever we need 🙂

      Take care and come out fighting tomorrow. Figuratively, of course.

      H H

      1. You are the 3rd person who said “Come out fighting tomorrow” 😀
        I hope I am not setting myself up for a fall here HAHA…
        I am REALLY Looking forward to doing this text thing tomorrow…
        I know Scotland can be a Shithole, but Celtic fans are different, so comments will be ok..
        We don’t want to show “them” we can’t get along, or we are as bad as them…
        Really looking forward to it, no nerves as another said, I am only typing…lol
        I don’t own this site, so discipline isn’t my issue.

        I think tomorrow we all anticipate and hope for a win, we lose, it will be hard to get 2nd, if we win, I really do think we will get 2nd place. So tomorrow will define Europe this season..

        And yeah when I had to stop playing aged 24 I started to coach School kids. Then I done 11 qualifications and had 15 AMAZING years creating memories till I got to East of Scotland where the likes of Gretna are now (Gretna 2012).. Here, have a read Arthur:


        I wrote this to 1,200 people, most who suffer the same illness I do, to prove even when you can’t function, your brain still can. Losing the ability to be on the sidelines DESTROYED me mate. This was almost 3 years ago. I came onto Twitter soon after I done my leg in. Hardest thing I ever had to walk away from Arthur, it hurt. I get offers every week, There are 100’s of Edinburgh Tims around many will know me through football. I was disliked by a few, but who isn’t disliked when you have a strong opinio, right? Comes with the territory of putting yourself in the limelight, but in the end WE had 19 trophies. I found that when you won trophies people hates you. When you do well people turn on you. I never understand this. (I mean in real life by a few idiot coaches/club owners) But I would go back and beat them all again 😀

        Anyway I am about crying here, I am away to go watch some tellybox…

        Enjoy the game tomorrow buddy, I will be watching and Typing, might get my son to type for me, as long as he types what I say…:-)

        Cheers Arthur

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