Ruthless Postecoglou, classy Abada: 3 things we learned as Celtic see off Jablonec
Not sure about you, but I was dead nervous before Celtic kicked off against FK Jablonec.
It’s not because I don’t believe in these players, nor our manager Ange Postecoglou. If anything, I think this squad, under the Greek-Aussie’s influence, will become an attacking force we could come to remember for decades.
But before that, it’s negotiating these tricky European away days that just churns the stomach. There’s so much potential for something to go wrong. Happily, Ange Postecoglou will be celebrating a win with his team, rather than shouting at supporters from a bush [Sun], or snarling, telling his players to leave [Daily Record].
None of that tonight. Instead, what we got was an odd sort of away win in Europe, one with a needlessly tense finish. Fine, Jablonec aren’t Bayern Munich, but Celtic needed to get the job done.
And get the job done, they did. 4-2 it finished, and Celtic really could’ve put 5 or 6 past Jablonec. However, defensive frailties still remain, and there’s work to do before the transfer market shuts at the end of August.
So, what did we learn as Celtic bested Jablonec?
Liel Abada shows his class for Celtic against Jablonec
In the first half alone, you could’ve had your pick for best Liel Abada moments.
How about his deft first-touch on the 42nd minute, scooping the ball to his boot as if hoovered from the sky? When he beat a defender, beat him again, then passed the ball to Ralston on the overlap?
Of course, there was his goal, too.
Few of us knew much of anything about Liel Abada before he arrived, but so far, he has the potential to be the best bit of business this window, pound-for-pound.
He has everything we’ve needed in a winger; he has a good eye for the pass when he’s outnumbered, he crosses with quality, he’s more than capable of taking players on, and he can finish with consummate ease.
The Israeli winger’s stock will only rise if he keeps delivering the goods for Celtic.
Celtic put constant pressure on Jablonec and their low block
A lot of people hate the phrase “low block” [Outside of the Boot]. So to qualify it, what I mean here is that Jablonec had numbers in defence, tried to force Celtic into central areas, and wanted to stifle the Bhoys in possession.
It didn’t work. Playing against teams utilising that defensive mode have found plenty of joy against the Bhoys of late. That was more the case last season, with Lennon and Kennedy in charge, but even Hearts on Saturday offered a similar test.
However, it looked different this time. Kyogo Furuhashi’s movement for the goal, peeling off the defender, taking an excellent first touch and stroking it past the keeper, for example. Or, some of the chances Celtic didn’t take; there was better movement off the ball, real pace and enthusiasm. Forrest on the left confused his marker with positive runs, while the aforementioned Abada just couldn’t be contained.
Of course, we’ll face better teams than Jablonec. However, we’ll also face plenty of teams who set up to frustrate us, allowing very little space.
The new-look Celtic attack look better-equipped to deal with that kind of defence.
Celtic defence still needs extensive surgery
Really, Celtic should’ve seen this off far more comfortably. Jablonec’s goals were both against the run of play, and the Bhoys created 13 chances [FotMob].
Questions still remain. There wasn’t a great deal Joe Hart could’ve done for the second, which took enough of a deflection to unsettle the former England goalkeeper.
However, Ralston just isn’t getting back quick enough, and Bitton’s reluctance to get into a proper defensive line with his fellow centre-back continues to bemuse.
Really, unless Jullien can come back quicker, we probably need a name like Ko Itakura to settle this Celtic defence. Let alone a right-back, that we’ve needed since Jeremie Frimpong left. In fact, many would argue we needed another quality option before.
4-2 it finished, and what an odd game it was. We’re reluctant to criticise the Bhoys after Postecoglou’s first competitive win, but it’s a worry, and there’s still plenty of transfer work to do.