Celtic play Italian giants Inter Milan in the knockout stages of the Europa League in February and will certainly face a stern test.
Week in, week out domestically Celtic dominate possession normally against much weaker opposition.
The clubs we face don’t have the finance or squad size that we boast so these clubs have to find a way of coping against Celtic, normally sitting with 10 men behind the ball holding out for a point – damage limitation.
The vast majority of matches Celtic knock and knock till eventually the door comes crashing down and with their superior talent manage to find winning goals.
In the Europa League the shoe will be on the other foot. Celtic will play a talented Italian team who after a poor start are turning their season around under new boss Roberto Mancini.
During the two legs Celtic will have to concede possession for long periods of time and stop Inter Milan from finding the gaps that Celtic themselves have to find on a weekly basis. If we can do this we can hit on the counter attack and progress in the tournament.
We need to learn from the Hamilton’s and Dundee United’s of this world; they know how to play with 10 men behind the ball. We know how frustrating it is coming up against sides who are well drilled and disciplined but we know how to break these teams down. We know where to find these gaps. We should also know how to stop them appearing. We train day in day out on creating these gaps we should by now be able to plug them.
If I were Ronny Deila I would study two matches prior to this game, both games involve Celtic and Inter Milan.
No, not the 67 European Cup Final where Celtic famously won the big cup at Inters expense but instead firstly I would look at Neil Lennon’s Celtic in their 2-1 victory against Barcelona at Celtic Park.
Secondly I would watch the Barcelona v Inter Milan at the Camp Nou stadium where Jose Mourinho’s team put Barca out of the Champions League.
These games are text book games on defending as a team, working hard, soaking up possession and being clinical on the counter attack.
We should also learn from our most recent games against Italian opposition. Namely Juventus and AC Milan.
Juventus cleverly conceded possession to Celtic giving them a false sense of security and came out convincing winners in both legs.
After playing very well in the San Siro against AC Milan Celtic lost 2-0. Milan then dished out a lesson in football at Celtic Park in the return game winning 3-0.
If Celtic try and play attacking football we will lose. We need to get our game plan spot on, use our domestic knowledge, use our history, stick to the task and we will have a great change of progression from this tie.
Ronny, let’s make history together!
Bhoys and Ghirls “Bring the thunder”