Copenhagen proved Celtic Park win was nothing for Hoops to be embarrassed about
If you tuned into the Manchester United vs Copenhagen Europa League quarter-final last night, you could be forgiven for feeling a tad deflated.
A feeling of “that should’ve been us” would’ve reverberated around the Celtic support if all of us let our emotions out whilst watching the contest.
Indeed, Copenhagen put Neil Lennon’s Celts to the sword after winning 3-1 at Parkhead back in February in the last-32. That was despite the fact Celtic managed a score-draw in the first leg in Denmark that they should’ve won in convincing fashion.
Therefore, the defeat to Copenhagen wasn’t only a surprise, but embarrassing to many at the time. After all, this was a side who had only made the Champions League group stage once since 2011. Their pedigree didn’t match up with Celtic’s, who had managed group stage football at Europe’s top table four times in the same timeframe.
But since that bruising night at Parkhead, Copenhagen have more than proved their worth. They dominated Turkish league-leaders Istanbul Basaksehir in a 3-0 romp in Denmark the other night, before showing up extremely well against next year’s Champions League contestants Man Utd.
Copenhagen proved their mettle
United eventually powered through to the semi-finals thanks to a Bruno Fernandes penalty, but that only arrived in extra-time. Granted, United had chances through Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, and Mason Greenwood respectively.
But don’t let United’s profligacy take away from the fact that Copenhagen were productive going forward themselves. Mohamed Daramy caused United’s defence a few problems, whilst Pep Biel and Jens Stage impressed in the midfield.
Copenhagen’s ball-retention was also superb on the night. They didn’t give as much as away as they did in the first leg between themselves and Celtic. So much so that they almost matched United for ball-time on the night. They ended the game with 45% and nine shots on goal (BBC). That’s 7% more of the ball and two shots more than they managed against the Hoops in their win at Parkhead (BBC).
What we’re getting at here is that we’ve now learned that Copenhagen are no mugs. They can give top-class European sides a run for their money, and in the end, there was no shame in losing out to them over two legs.
That’s not to say the manner of it wasn’t disappointing. The poor game-management Celtic showed in Glasgow and the amateur-hour positional sense of our back-line can’t be understated.
However, to act as though we were beaten by a poor outfit can now be dismissed. Copenhagen have shown their worth in Europe this season, and it’s down to us to express ourselves in similar fashion this year.