As the goals rained into De Vries’ poorly guarded net I was overcome with a menagerie of different emotions; fear, embarrassment, envy, awe and even a touch of anger. This is not only the worst result in Celtic’s European history, it is also the worst ever result by a side lucky enough to be able to call themselves European Cup winners. With this in mind it alters the words by Brendan Rodgers and makes them ring untrue. In the wake of the 7-0 defeat, the gaffer said “There can be no embarrassment because they do that to much better teams than ourselves,”.
The faith in Rodgers should not melt away thanks to Barcelona’s fiery brilliance. While he is wrong in his assertions that here should be no embarrassment, there has to be a certain degree of acceptance. This is a Barcelona side that may well go down as the finest in the history of the game –the front three of Messi, Neymar and Suarez certainly will. The defence could have done more to ensure that the goal was harder to penetrate, however, some of the goals last night were truly mesmeric; Suarez’ swivel and Iniesta’s absurdly brilliant volley stand out. When you factor how emotionally and physically draining the game at the weekend was, compared to Barcelona’s mass resting of stars, and you can understand how such a demolition was possible, if not palatable.
It is not a result that the players will take with anything other than resilience. Captain Scott Brown, who under Rodgers tutelage has looked like a completely different player from last season’s shambling entity, said “It’s 7-0. I’m not going to come away from here laughing and joking, am I? It’s hard to take, but they are a great team”.
Next up is the daunting task of hosting of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City who have, rather ominously, taken to the Catalan’s methods rather quickly. There is of course no comparison in budget or playing staff and to the untrained eye a repeat of last night’s capitulation appears to be on the cards. Although, there is one crucial factor that needs to be remembered – Celtic Park. Strange things occur during Champions League fixtures inside that famous ground. Juventus, AC Milan, Manchester United as well as Barcelona themselves have been turned from Parkhead with their tails between their legs with nothing to show for their efforts but a bewildered look emblazoned across their faces. This is a view shared by the skipper brown who last night said “We need to bounce back. We need to try and get something. We know at Celtic Park, with our fans, anything can happen.”
As I have said, there was a fair amount of anger percolating last night, yet, this is the time to keep level heads. Celtic are still in the embryonic stage of the ‘Rodgers Revolution’ and, away games on the continent aside, could any more have been achieved? Domestically the squad look imperious and thanks to the new vibrant style of play attendances are soaring. All the signings look as though they have something to offer, meaning that the ambition to win the much desired ‘treble’ is attainable. Within Scotland’s borders there is nothing that can faze this squad.
You would like to assume that a man as intelligent as Rodgers will find a way to dissect the game and come up with a plan that will allow the club to be more resolute going forward. The games from now on will be easier than the trip to the Camp Nou, but not by much.