This was as comfortable a victory for Borussia as ours was against Motherwell at the weekend. Whilst the goals were both down to individual errors the difference in class was obvious throughout the game. The Germans gave us a lesson in the management of space. They always seemed to be able to find space with great movement off the ball. Conversely they reduced our space very effectively and also gave us a lesson in pressing. We had no time on the ball and little space to pass into. When we tried to press they just passed through us which then made us very hesitant to get in their faces.
The fact is that we are a team in need of a lot more development to compete at this level, particularly in midfield. Brown put in a good shift but the rest of the midfield struggled to compete. In the first half we tried to circumvent this with long balls to Dembele but, unlike in the Man City game, he rarely won a ball in the air. We stopped this tactic in the second half but often then seemed devoid of ways to move forward which resulted in all the sideway passes. This is what led to the second goal. Yes, Toure made a mistake, but he was struggling for options when this happened. Just before this I was thinking that Toure must have received more passes than any other Celtic player.
I thought that some of the fans tonight were ridiculously critical of the team (though I may be unduly affected by the guy behind me who’s favourite word seems to “pish”). When we were being torn apart at home by Molde a year ago then the criticism was justified but tonight we faced a quality team. Despite that, none of the players can be criticised for their attitude and commitment. Gordon saved us several times and Erik had one of his best games for us. The front three rarely got the service they needed and so it’s hard to be too critical of them. Roberts made a real difference when we came on and Griffiths made some good runs. The most disappointing fact of the night though is that we did not have one single shot on target.
I don’t think that Rodgers will have learnt anything that he didn’t know tonight. If anything the high expectations were a consequence of the way he has got the team to over perform on occasions. We have improved hugely in just a few months and I’m still confident that this will continue.
On to Hampden!
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