A sobering experience for Celtic last night! It is of course no disgrace to lose to the best team in the world, even a fairly hefty 0-3 defeat at home. There were so many good things on view, not least a magnificent display from the supporters.
If they did not know what the Celtic Park experience was like before, Europe and the world certainly does now, and for those of us who were there, it was definitely a goose bump moment which lasted 90 minutes. Very revealing of the “classiness” of the Celtic support was the ovation given to Luka Modric when he was substituted – in total contrast to the scorer of the first goal whose “celebrations” in front of the Celtic support were provocative, insulting, childish and a disgrace to the mighty organisation that is Real Madrid.
And yet it could have been different. There were three key moments when it could all have been different – Liel Abada shot straight at the goalkeeper, Callum McGregor hit the inside of the post and Daizen Maeda miskicked in front of goal – any of these three might have given us a goal, and life would have been very different. As it is, we still proved that we are worthy of a place among the big boys, and it is a learning experience.
One could not really point a finger at any one of our players and say “He had a bad game”. We can be proud of them all, and I repeat, we were against the best team in the world.
The thing to be be learned about this game was pace. The pace was electrifying in the first half with action at both ends, but I felt that Real simply had a little more than we did in the second half. Maybe Ange should have brought on his substitutes a little earlier than he did. After all, the men on the bench were just as good as those on the field in many respects, and weren’t we all impressed by Sead Hakšabanović!
The appetite and drive of that man is unmistakeable, and I suspect we will soon be able to spell and pronounce his name a great deal better than we do now!
To face the future, we now go to Poland next week to face Shakhtar Donetsk, no-one’s idea of an easy task. It seems to me that, given their victory over Leipzig last night, we really must put points on the board on Wednesday, otherwise the conclusion will inevitably be that the group is now a competition between us and Leipzig for the Europa League spot. It is far too early to say that, of course, but it would be a shame for a team of Celtic’s undeniable ability and (importantly) support not to be playing in the Champions League after the New Year. We must believe!
In the meantime, we have Livingston on Saturday. There will be a few changes, one suspects, in the starting XI, but the changes will not be because of weaknesses. Both the Celtic players and the Celtic support have every reason to be happy about last night, and if you heard Ange Postecoglou afterwards you will understand just how dtermined he is for Celtic to succeed in this Champions League group.
Celtic outclassed in the second half but take yourself back a year and it’s a team and a club who have made so much progress under Ange Postecoglou. Real Madrid were ruthless that’s the difference at this level🍀
— Chris Sutton (@chris_sutton73) September 6, 2022