One of the strangest games I have reported on or watched was very little to report on. Ambrose and Dijk did well against troublesome attacking players, the midfield were good in stages, up front Stokes was isolated and Pukki was very poor today, but Pukki did say playing in the SPFL is harder than the top league on Germany
This was Celtic’s 20th competitive game of the season, and we are really at a stage where our squad is being stretched just now with Commons, Forrest, Mulgrew, Boerrigter, Matthews and maybe now Izzy and Samaras out for the Dundee Unites game, our squad is smaller than last year but it is stronger, the squad players we have are better than the squad players we had last year I think, Balde being a good example
Celtic fought hard in today’s Glasgow Derby and it was no show of brilliant football, this was a battle, I asked before the game started if we would miss Scott Brown who started today at right midfield instead of in the middle where he was been superb recently, in the end he was in centre midfield and steadied things near the end
Celtic took the lead on 33 minutes when an Izaguirre corner was met by Samaras; he headed it down with a good connection and 1-0. For spells today Partick showed they are a very good team at keeping hold of the ball, they play it side to side and backwards if needed. Thistle made it 1-1 in the second half and to be fair, poor defending by Celtic, we just switched off, Doolan hit the bar as the Celtic players looked on, the ball came back in and the same player got a foot to it and scored, at this point we think the worst
But this Celtic team are made of different stuff than they were even last year, Pukki who I thought was having a very poor game, he struggled with the physical nature of the game and couldn’t keep the ball, I felt sorry for Stokes today, he seemed to be up-front alone for long spells, Pikku is not a box player, when the ball was in the box, or crosses were put in, or on the counter attack, Pukki was outside the box, I am hoping Lennon and the coaches can change his style to suit the Scottish game, he gets no time here
A substitution I thought was good at the time, Balde came on for Pukki, Balde for a while earlier in the season looked clumsey and out of his comfort zone, but the last 2 games he has came on as a sub, he has scored. Today he scored a great individual goal, very similar to his goal against Kilmarnock; he got the ball and just ran at goal, got past the defender and slid it past the keeper to make it 2-1 on 74 minutes.
Celtic lost Izaguirre to a head knock on 77 minutes, with Biton coming on, then we lost Samaras to a very bad cut above his left knee on 85 minutes leaving us to end the game with 10 players, he was sitting up on the park looking ok, when Lennon spoke to the press after the game he said Izzy has concussion and Samaras was getting stitches on his knee wound, it looked as if it was a few inches above the knee so maybe he can strap and play, it would be bad news if we lost one or both players for any time with the players already out. As I say the squad is big and full of international players who are on the bench, so we are coping, but with Dundee United up next then Ajax away, I am guessing neither player will play next weekend.
All in a hard fought win, we just edged in and 2-1 was a fair result in the end. And again 2 attacking players getting the goals, Lennon will be happy with that
Balde Goal, the Winner!
Till next time