Even on a frustrating night, when your Celtic side struggles to overcome minor Swiss opposition, there are lessons to be learnt. Some of them are even Shakespearean.
Fraser Forster is a Keeper
It’s testament to Lennons’ faith in the big goalkeeper that a mere six hours after signing on loan for a second successive season he was pitched into action in one of the biggest games of our season. As with the majority of his games last year he was again the epitome of a solid, if unspectacular keeper. Tall, commanding and calm, just what was required in a jittery game. On the other hand it also sent a somewhat cruel but crystal clear message to Lukasz Zaluska that he is not good enough to be first choice at Parkhead.
That other famous Scottish tragedy Macbeth contains the lament “Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” Now, whilst poor King Macbeth was mourning his wife’s suicide at the hands of his flawed ambition Shakespeare was essentially nailing the essence of futility. For swathes of last night’s game our midfield passing was full of promise, full of running and great to watch without ever looking like we were going to unleash in the final third. With Stokes inexplicably out wide on the right and Samaras in particularly frustrating form our attack looked...well...futile.
If the goal they scored hadn’t been spuriously flagged for offside then it would have been curtains for us again
Set Pieces in Pieces
Frustratingly bad corners, free kicks launched with the strict caveat that they should be useful to absolutely no one, it’s safe to say our set pieces need some work. Whether you judge a performance by stats or not they clearly show we dwarfed Sion in sheer volume of corners and free kicks but ultimately failed to make them count. Until the excellent WeeShaunMaloney™ came on and nearly scored direct from a free kick we looked toothless in this department. If we’re going to do anything in this competition we need to sharpen up on this and fast.
Look on the Brightside; at least we’re not Hearts.
Despite the frustration of not scoring, there was nothing to suggest FC Sion are unbeatable in the second leg. For all their workmanlike defence they offered little threat going forward. Their counter-attacking style was ponderous at best and failed to spark the panic that we’ve seen in previous season against sides who have played us out of Europe with this simple but effective rouse. If the goal they scored hadn’t been spuriously flagged for offside then it would have been curtains for us again but we’ve mercifully got a reprieve. I still fancy us to come back from Switzerland with some change in a fortnight’s time.
Sion Sleeps With the Fishes
Whilst most sections of the Scottish football press have dissolved into a self-flagellating, biodegradable mass of misery over our clubs collective failure in Europe, Celtic may still be granted a reprieve from Don Sep and his FIFA Capos over a convoluted transfer embargo placed on FC Sion. Basically, they bought a player in a contract dispute with his former club, UEFA placed a transfer embargo on them until the dispute was resolved, FC Sion settled the dispute in the Swiss courts and bought a load of players and UEFA and FIFA are unhappy because they don’t like things being sorted out in the real world. This means Sion may be punished for playing some of these ‘ineligible’ players last night and we may end up getting a ‘favour’ that we hopefully won’t need.
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