Celtic were in mesmerising form on Saturday. The 6-1 thrashing of Kilmarnock was a welcome boost going into Wednesday’s Champions League tie.
In the aftermath of the Massacre of Matchday 1, Celtic managed a 2-2 draw at Inverness in the Scottish Premiership followed by a 2-0 win at home to Alloa in the League Cup. In truth Celtic should have won the game against Caley Thistle with several chances missed whilst the Alloa match would have been a high scoring win on any other occasion.
So beating Kilmarnock by such a large margin, Celtic have their shooting boots on again. Just in time for the arrival of Manchester City this week.
I only saw the highlights of the weekend’s game but Celtic looked comfortable and at ease. This was a good warm up with Wednesday’s game in mind.
Leigh Griffiths returned and scored after replacing Moussa Dembele who had helped himself to a brace before making way for the Scotsman. A fine effort by James Forrest, a trundled goal by Tom Rogic and a Scott Sinclair penalty all added to make this a healthy scoreline.
Sinclair kept his scoring record alive and on course for equaling and possibly beating Jimmy McGrory’s record. Dembele’s tally continues to grow as does Griffiths’ but save some praise for James Forrest who is looking like a new player these days.
He’s clearly enjoying his football under Brendan Rodgers at Celtic. In fact, the same can be said for most of the players at Celtic right now.
I always knew this team – made up largely by the previous managers – was capable of so much more. The few new additions have helped compliment the many who have been at the club for a while.
For Rodgers this is good news but this is far from the finished article. There us plenty of room for improvement.
What we’re seeing now though is breathtaking at times. We’ve not seen this kind of ruthlessness from a Celtic side for so long.
What still needs attention is goalkeeping and defending. We must be just as mean at the back as we are clinical in attack.
In time that will come I’m sure. With the added expectation and pressure of the Champions League there is little time to get that ingrained into the mentality of the team.
When Pep Guardiola brings his unbeaten team of all-stars to Celtic Park on Wednesday we could be brought down a peg or two once more. City are a high-flying team right now with one, if not the most, respected managers in world football at the helm.
The team sheet is laden with superstars thanks to being bankrolled by the very generous TV rights kitty in England and of course a very wealthy owner. By comparison, Celtic operate in a less lavish climate despite being the best team in Scotland by far and with solid business model in place.
When Celtic went to Barcelona nobody expected a result. We didn’t expect a hiding either but then we were up against the best three-pronged attack in world football.
City offer something different though. They aren’t world beaters but they are superb.
Celtic have a chance though because they have home advantage. It can count, but Celtic will have to dig deeper to stave off such a potent force.
Brendan Rodgers has instilled confidence into the Celtic team but he must sort out the goalkeeping position and organise his defenders. Dorus De Vries was subbed at the weekend, claiming he had a chest injury.
In stepped Craig Gordon for the second half. From what I’ve seen of De Vries, he has very little more to offer than Gordon does.
I’d rather Rodgers went with Gordon on Wednesday. It has to be said though that this is a position that must be dealt with swiftly.
Gordon is a decent keeper, but his form has slid since his debut season and I was already of the opinion Celtic might need to bring in someone new. De Vries was drafted in to challenge the Scotland international but I’m not impressed.
I’m not bothered by the fact he is three years older than Gordon. What I am concerned about is that we’ve brought someone in who is supposed to be challenging for the number one jersey and has so far failed to impress.
Whoever plays in goals on Wednesday night they need only do one thing – their job. In the short-term we will need to make do with the current set of goalkeeping options but looking ahead, something will need to change.
Beating Manchester City remains a tall order. They have a great squad, manager and are in top form.
Celtic must use home advantage, keep things tight at the back and have the fans in top voice. This isn’t an impossible task but it is a difficult one.
I would expect Celtic to concede as they have in all but three games this season. Scoring goals hasn’t been too much of a problem though Celtic have yet to get one in this group.
I am confident we will score against City. The question is, how many will they score against us?