Nobody was under any illusions about Tuesday night’s task. It was more about how does Brendan Rodgers go about facing the inevitable?
Barcelona, one of the finest teams around, set about Celtic at Camp Nou with zero mercy. They annihilated the Hoops and demonstrated the class they possess in abundance.
History around this fixture made it an almost impossible task. With no wins to speak of for Celtic at Camp Nou, this was about damage limitation.
The most potent strike force in Europe wiped away Celtic with torturous execution. You could argue that Celtic failed to stifle the Catalan class on show, but in reality the game was beyond their reach.
The few chances that came Celtic’s way would have done little to change what was coming. Even the penalty miss by Moussa Dembele would probably only have delayed the inevitable.
Brendan Rodgers put out a 5-4-1 team hoping to limit attack and allow wide men such as Scott Sinclair and Patrick Roberts to counter attack. The latter of the two made very little headway, the former doing what he could for the whole match.
Cristian Gamboa made his debut and had such a tough match he was culpable on more than one occasion. You could have put any man in there, but the result may have been similar given just how effective Messi and Neymar were throughout the match and how frail Celtic were at the back.
This was a masterclass in HD. That much cannot be denied.
Luis Suarez was billed as the danger man, but he didn’t pop up until the last quarter of an hour. The reality was a harsh lesson for Celtic and the scoreline punishing.
Winning was never on the cards, but the result was hard to take nonetheless. The Hoops will recover though.
They are back where they need to be, but teams like Barcelona are a reminder of just how big a gap there is between Celtic and progress. A lack of progress that has hurt Celtic in Europe.
The little investment made is more than capable on the domestic front but making headway in Europe is a different ball game. Celtic must accept such defeats and invest where they can incrementally.
7-0 is a huge defeat, Celtic’s worst in Europe in fact. Where does the club go from here though?
Could Brendan Rodgers have done things better? Could the players have done better?
Well we can debate the positives (Scott Brown) and negatives (Dorus de Vries, Cristian Gamboa…) but not right now. Celtic must move on and seek results elsewhere.
They’ve gotten undoubtedly the toughest game out-of-the-way first. There will be plenty more challenges in this competition as the fixtures unfold.
Best to focus on those. Barcelona are the best there is.