Saturday, April 1, 2023

3 Lessons Celtic Learnt From Their Heavy Defeat Against Barcelona

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Snehanjan Banerjee
Snehanjan used to a former columnist at The 4th Official. Fan of KK, Cricket and Liverpool (in no particular order).

It was a historic night for Celtic but for all the wrong reasons. The Hoops recorded their biggest ever defeat in Europe at the hands of mighty Barcelona. Rampant Barcelona scored as many as seven goals past the Scottish champions showcasing pure magic with their feet. Lionel Messi scored his sixth Champions League hat-trick while Luis Suarez bagged a brace and both Neymar and Iniesta scored one each. When Barcelona are at their best, they are absolutely unplayable and the shock loss to Alaves on Saturday probably added more fuel to the fire.

Celtic fans were on cloud nine after their massive 5-1 win over Rangers last weekend but this thrashing will be enough to bring them back to earth. Here are three lessons Celtic should take from this loss.

Five at the back backfired

Brendan Rodgers took a more defensive approach to his game while taking on Barcelona. He played five at the back and the central midfield duo of Brown and Bitton also stayed very deep. Still, Celtic could not stop Barcelona from playing. Rodgers’ defensive tactics were responsible for allowing the opposition time on the ball and with such technical players, it was inevitable that they’ll find the back of the net. You cannot just contain the likes of Messi, Suarez, Iniesta and Neymar by just defending deep. Rodgers should have stuck to his natural 4-2-3-1 setup.

BARCELONA, SPAIN – SEPTEMBER 13: Kolo Toure of Celtic is put under pressure from Lionel Messi of Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between FC Barcelona and Celtic FC at Camp Nou on September 13, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Even Europa League seems too farfetched

Celtic had the toughest possible draw in the Champions League with Barcelona, Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach and can literally forget about making it to the round of 16. Celtic finishing third in their group seems very unlikely. They can probably put a strong performance against Borussia Monchengladbach but they now have a monumental goal difference to make up. Rodgers should focus on the two games against the German giants most to make it to Europa at least.

Rodgers’ poor record in Champions League gets worse

Brendan Rodgers had managed in Champions League only once before this. In the 2014-15 season, Rodgers managed Liverpool in the Premier club competition of Europe and could manage just one solitary win in six games and that was just a 1-0 win against minnows Ludogorets. Still very young, Rodgers has ample time on his hands to make up for his poor record in the Champions League but this 7-0 loss makes things much unfavourable for him.

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