Welcome to another exhilarating night of Zadok The Priest and the most raucous atmosphere,perhaps,in football. We certainly know how to turn it up to eleven on a European night at Celtic Park.
Tonight has to be one where we convert that support,that powerful racket,into points. While it is true to say that a draw last week in Germany would have been a decent result,a 3-1 reversal on the night most certainly was not. It might even be difficult task to match them,much less better them,on the head-to-head.
In a group like this one where it is becoming incredibly tight as we all look up at runaway leaders Real Madrid,a win can provide a huge turnaround in fortune. To do so tonight would put us level in second place,and it is what is required of us.
A defeat would wreck our hopes of second place,and make third a very difficult proposition too. A performance like we saw in the first half against Real is probably needed,but keeping it up for the full ninety.
But then,I doubt that any of you need this pointing out to you. Nor do AP and the players. One thing I reckon we can be sure of tonight is 100% effort. None of our players will be coming off that pitch wishing that they had just tried that little bit harder.
In football,you rarely get anywhere without graft. But that on its own is nowhere near a guarantee of success. Insert your own percentages in the inspiration/perspiration chart,because we are going to need plenty of both on the night!
But let’s forget about that head-to-head for a moment. It will only become relevant in the unlikely event of a tie between us and RB Leipzig anyway. Why overcomplicate things when the most important thing-by a distance!-is the three points. We can bounce the permutations about later,but ONLY if we get those three points anyway. No three points and we could be out on our ear entirely.
Which,as I mentioned earlier,I am sure that AP and the players are well aware of.
So how do we go about bettering a side who so comprehensively hammered us on the break last week? Well,a start would be to prevent those breaks in the first place. Some better protection for the defence than last week is a minimum requirement. Ange likes his own ideas on how the game should be played. We know that,and are rather partial to enjoying it too. But it can all unravel so easily-as last week-when the players forget their own role in the system.
Last week was a shocker,but should also serve as a wake up call. Yes,we were holding them until Joe’s howler,but we had already seriously underperformed in various departments by then,and just couldn’t quite get it all to click.
In addition,we had lost our captain by then-due to an unforced error from him in the first place-and were missing our two first-choice centre backs. I get all that,but the team news for tonight is hardly an improvement. Yes,CCV is back,having hopefully got any ring-rustiness out of his system on Saturday. But Starfelt is still out,CalMac will be missing till after the World Cup,and just to add insult to injury,it looks as though we will be missing Jota.
There are no updates on him,other than that he missed training and will be looked at in the morning. That doesn’t look promising for later in the evening,and makes predicting a side in advance of the results a bit of a lottery.
A bit like predicting the team on Saturday in the absence of CalMac! I doubt that anyone would have picked that starting eleven,but we got the result in the face of the usual thuggery and mibbery. Three points,job done-and a good few scunnered huns into the bargain-works for me!
Anyway,just for a laugh-and to give my sisters palpitations-here goes.
Jura and Jenz will return in defence. Bernabei,who was excellent on Saturday,will retain his place.
Up front,I would go with Abada,G-Mak and Haksabanovic. I like the way the latter can drop deeper when needed,and I’m confident he can bring an overlapping Bernabei into proceedings.
Two of the midfield,Reo and Matt,are picking themselves these days and could probably do with a rest. They will maybe get one in a month’s time,though I suspect Reo will figure in the Japan side in Qatar. So who makes up the eleven?
IMO,it has to be Abligaard. He hasn’t been particularly impressive for us yet,but then,he has hardly had any game time with us. When he has played,he looks tailor-made for the deep midfielder-he knows the position,can read the game and tackle. Additionally,and most importantly,he has a lot more pace than either Mooy or McCarthy.
Our back five need to be tight-yet adventurous. Our front six need to run their socks off to get the early lead and retain it. If they have nothing more to give after,say,seventy minutes,that’s fine. We have five substitutes available and raring to go.
We need all TWENTY named players tonight to be raring to go. A win is an imperative. Let’s show this manufactured vanity project what it means to be up against a proper side in a proper football venue.
Sure,we can shake hands after the game. Until then,no mercy. For the full 90+ minutes.
Above article by BMCUWP