Celtic vs Cluj preview
The August defeat at the hands of the Romanian’s stung like a round of drinks in Babbity’s.
It was a heady blow to all but especially our Lurgan leader who was trying to build some trust up with an already underwhelmed and sceptical fanbase upon returning.
The manner of the defeat especially brought calls of tactical naivety after not bolstering the middle of the park while the game leaned our way.
We are about to find out if it was a lesson learned by the gaffer and can he come out best in the rematch.
The opening game in France coupled with an excellent league start has given the Hoops a bit of a spring in their step going into this game. It has also gave Neil and his squad a bit of leeway from those fans who needed to be convinced , of whom few remain.
The Ibrox display seen the men in light blue outplayed and Rennes away was very steady for a usually there to be had outfit. We might not have Pep but theres clearly more than a bit of motivation .
Of course Murphy’s law has struck and we approach this tie on the back of dropping points plus not having a very fluid performance although the glass half full punter may well see legs that were holding a bit back for the bigger game to come,,, tonight.
Theres no better place to be in the entire game but under those floodlights with what should be a cracker of a game and the faithful in fine voice.
An unneeded I imagine shot in the arm might well be the fact their captain has already stupidly run his mouth off and proclaimed they expect to beat us again !
It could have went either way last time so he has just shown a bit of immaturity imo,,and the gaffer may well play that card in the dressing room pre speech tonight .
“ Lets get revenge and ram this down his throat “ or words to that effect would be adequate.
Our group ( group E ) already seen a mini shock when tonights opponents toppled the mighty Lazio at home , however this could be a sign the Italians arent taking this cup seriously as that nations entrants have been known to in the past. They focus on the league.
Whether thats a blessing or a disguise depends on where you sit I suppose but I would rather have all in it to win it rather than a couldnt be bothered team . In theory even a second string would play to their maximum to catch the bosses eye so a leave it approach seems very strange to me.
But still its the Romanians that come into tonights tie with three points and at the groups summit.
With the unpredictable Romans and the French well nullified at home this group is basically a grab a ticket lucky dip. Your number might come up but then again.
We must make our own luck though,,and tonight is the perfect night to lay down a marker.
Home wins are key and Cluj started the campaign with one,,if we aim to go through then its essential we match that.
Victory tonight would go a long way towards footie after Christmas which must be Neil’s ultimate aim. That itself would be a success of sorts and then its time to dream and imagine youre bigger than all the remaining giants as usual.
Who will play ?
Well I do think ElHamed will start having sat out the weekend. Odsonne , James , Ryan , Scott , Kris , Julien , Calmac , Frazer are all stick on’s in my book which leaves two positions open.
The left back and the third midfielder .
Boli and Ncham might well be fav’s here with big Tam an outside chance .
Another option would be move Ryan inside and stick Elyounoussi or Sinky wide left,,,I would much prefer this option with a proper left winger running at them with pace who can actually hit the by line no worries.
The curveball option would be two strikers and a start for Bayo at the third midfielders expense which would be attacking and ballsy if unlikely.
The team talk,,,
“ Look they had one foot in the grave and were dead and buried yet we somehow let them come alive again. Its time to really sink our teeth into them and kill them once and for all. Go for the jugular right from the off.
Now there was extra garlic in their goulash and the water is diverted from the local chapel plus Peter says he found a silver bullet he never had any intention of ever firing lying around.
They’re on our hallowed turf and will be uncomfortable even though it will be dark and historically October is their strongest month.
The stakes are high and pointy,,show no mercy and I wanna see cross after cross with no fear at all. I want that away dressing room to be like a cemetary later , silent as the grave.
The early goal will suck the life outta them. Now get into them like bat’s outta hell lad’s ! “
Or word’s to that effect I imagine.
Well I did have us taking them last time,,and we really should have. Plus we have a bit of swagger now despite the refs and the Hibee’s. So yeah,,Im confident we will win or at least draw. I can see us going for three points and them thinking we have three points we werent expecting perhaps we go for it and try for 6 points in two games which more than likely will bring them through on that trajectory. Perhaps they try and like their captain says they arent afraid and think they can repeat the recent victory.
In that case at home , with big Odsonne and James on fire ,infront of the faithful , and Lurch back between the sticks, I see us taking them and laying down a marker that they got lucky and dont think you have our number based on a bad night fool’s.
2 zip and probably the groups summit also to round off a great night.
The above is by Mahe. If you wish to write anything for the site we are always more than happy to publish fellow fans views. We know there are great writers out there that just need a platform and an audience. firstname.lastname@example.org