Peter Martin assesses another night of European misery for Celtic
There is no defence for yet another European defeat for Celtic and therein lies the problem.
This team can’t defend and they always, always give you a goal.
One of the Opta stats from last night summed up Celtic; the Scottish champions have only managed to keep a clean sheet in one of their last 27 games away from home in Europe.
The manager Brendan Rodgers has been brutal in his assessment of the problem and he reiterated it last week, The club stood still in the summer when they should’ve strengthened the team from a position of strength.
The bank balance of £50m plus is far more important to this board than the manager’s transfer list and their actions on the last day of the transfer window backed up that accusation.
Celtic fans want their team to compete, but in truth they weren’t good enough to get past the mediocre AEK Athens to make it to the Champions League group stage and to add salt to the wounds, they aren’t even a decent Europa League team.
It was a good opening twenty-five minutes in the first half against RB Leipzig, but I was just waiting for the inevitable mistake from the back line and they didn’t disappoint.
1-0 down just after half an hour with Boyata never too far away from the blunder. If Celtic can increase their profits in January with the sale of Dedryk ‘I’m a better player in my head’ Boyata, then they deserve a round of applause.
Expectations were low for me ahead of this game, with so many players injured, this was never going to be a ‘wonder’ show from the reserves. If I am honest, I don’t even think a full strength eleven would have taken anything from Leipzig.
Goal number two killed off this tie and the only thing on Brendan Rodgers mind at half-time must have been, how do I keep the score down in the second half?
Apart from a couple of efforts after the break, Celtic lacked ambition or indeed the ammunition to suggest they could get back into the game.
The group’s not dead yet for Celtic, but would you bet on them defeating Leipzig at home, Rosenborg away and Salzburg at home to stand a chance of a second place finish?
In contrast to the level of football on show in Europe, I fully expect Celtic to go to Murrayfield on Sunday and book their place in the League cup final with a win over Hearts. I don’t think the Europa league defeat will have any bearing on their mindset going into the semi-final.
My reasoning is fairly straightforward, Celtic are still too good for everyone in Scottish football and the level of our game is such that the current squad that Brendan Rodgers has at his disposal is still too strong for anyone to lay a glove on them.
Don’t get me wrong, Hearts could pull off a one-off win against Celtic, just as they did earlier in the season, but I can’t see it happening.
Celtic, domestically, are still kings of the castle, but in Europe, they are just there to make up the numbers in the bank balance sheet.
If you don’t believe me, ask the manager.