Celtic's defensive improvement highlighted as Ange Postecoglou delivers again

By David Walton

November 4, 2021

BBC pundit James McFadden has highlighted the major improvement in how the Celtic backline dealt with set pieces and cross-balls tonight.

Ferencvaros managed to net 2 this evening in a big 3-2 win for Celtic. However, when it came to set-pieces and general deliveries into the area, the Hoops backline dealt with it superbly.

Cameron Carter-Vickers and Stephen Welsh were at the heart of the Celtic defence this evening. Both put in stunning individual performances to keep Ange Postecoglou’s side in control for large spells.

Photo by ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images

And speaking after the game on BBC Sportsound [BBC Radio Scotland, 04/11, 22:01], McFadden moved to highlight the incredible defensive improvement in Ange’s Celtic:

“They look more confident in those situations. Go back to last season, in most of the games anytime the ball came in from a set-play, they couldn’t get it clear. Tonight it looked like they were getting first contact, they were clearing the ball.

“And if they didn’t clear it then it wasn’t because they couldn’t but because they were trying to play an extra pass. But they look more confident in those situations. Their defensive record – they’ve conceded more goals in these 4 Europa League games than they have in the league in 12 games. So I think that they look better, and that comes from having largely having a settled backline.

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“I know Starfelt was out and Welsh comes out, but he’s shown that he’s good enough. I know they’ve conceded 2 goals, but in general they looked in control. They didn’t panic, they continued to try and play in the same manner, and they will concede goals.”

Celtic defensive performance will go underappreciated tonight

Celtic conceded 2 goals tonight. That means you’ll have analysts and pundits going on and on about how the defence still needs work. Of course it does, but it’s important to put tonight’s defensive display into perspective.

Let’s start by looking at the 2 goals the Hungarians actually scored. The first one came from a wicked deflection from a cross we actually managed to block down the left. You can’t blame a single Celtic defender for the fact it took a crazy spin and looped into the back of our net.

As for the second, it’s a brilliant hit from Myrto Uzuni. Sure, Anthony Ralston could do better to stop the shot. He could throw his body in the way if we’re being overly-critical. But nobody is expecting Uzuni to find the far corner. It’s a tremendous effort, even if Joe Hart was left fuming with his backline.

Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images

Outside of that, where were the big scares tonight? Celtic’s backline headed clear everything that came into their box. The only opportunities Ferencvaros had came from range. Can we honestly say this was a poor defensive display?

Ange Postecoglou put it brilliantly last week when he spoke about how clean sheets don’t necessarily make for a good defensive display. You can keep a clean sheet and still perform poorly at the back. Tonight was the flip side of that. We conceded 2 yet still put in a fine defensive shift.

It’s a brilliant result for the football club and a morale-booster for the backline. Even without our first-choice centre-back, we’re still looking solid.

In other news, Chris Sutton highlights 2 Celtic players for praise after stunning displays vs Ferencvaros