A winning start
Sunshine, beautiful tifo, very strong bench, stands packed full of supporters in fine voice, an early goal.
Yesterday’s game had the potential to turn into a real spectacle, but it never happened.
Celtic werent scintillating, didn’t blow the Dandy Dons away, but accomplished the most important task in collecting all three points.
A winning start is important, well done Ange and the bhoys.
However a good performance delivers points and confidence. It’s a sign of the times many expect the team to win and play well, that was fast becoming the normal, and we heard about Ange’s teams becoming a better unit in his second year which added to the expectation of a real show from the Hoops.
Why did we not blow them away?
For starters they aren’t a bad team, workmanlike and defending in numbers, plus their defenders are big solid chaps who are happy getting their body between the ball and goal line.
Nine times out of ten they don’t concede that early Welsh goal. Each of the three taller stronger defenders seemed to leave it to the other two, their manager will be drilling them constantly to attack that ball and clean everyone out if need be.
It was a poor one to give away, cheap and unnecessary, but lady luck smiles upon us and our bhoy was in the right place at the right time. He was solid and scored, can’t ask for more from a backup player, full pass marks.
I don’t believe our team selection helped. The opening home game should be an attacking affair, the Hoops fully going for the jugular. That suggests playing your best attack minded players in an attacking system.
In that case it’s Bernabei over Taylor, and G-Mak before Kyogo for the variety of goals he can (and does) score. It’s notable that he had more chances per minute than his Japanese teammate. Kyogo prefers to run at defenders, and with the Dons sitting very deep, maybe the big bhoy leading the line was the better option.
Juranovich impressed me, but that has more to do with his composure on the ball and his reading of the game, often intercepting a pass. He wasn’t swashbuckling though did venture forward occasionally, similar to GT on the other side. Were our fullbacks playing with the handbreak on? Could they have offered more offensively?
Yes and yes, to these eyes anyway.
The victory didnt come through luck alone though. The team hustled and harried a lot, very intent on winning possession from those in red. Always a positive.
And we had a difference maker.
Jota was fantastic and my man of the match before he netted with that fabulous strike. Here, there, everywhere, he was a constant thorn in their side and by a mile the best player on the park.
We knew that, and that’s why we’ve shelled out the big bucks to capture his signature.
Quality players produce quality moments, and that’s exactly what happened to seal the three points.
But looking to Jota for a moment of magic isn’t a game plan. More savvy managers and teams would know how to negate his wizardry plus he could easily get injured.
In Europe the overall team shape and tactics are crucial,,we shall face clubs with a few difference makers and not just one.
To compete we must become more than the sum of our parts, which didn’t happen against the Dons.
We are in much better shape since Ange walked in the door, but must regain our match sharpness and quickly.