After Celtic failed to narrow the gap at the top of the Premiership yesterday, Euro rivals Lille dropped top spot to PSG in Ligue 1 as they failed to overcome Nice.
Indeed, Christophe Galtier’s side had to come from behind to salvage a draw and maintain their eight-game unbeaten run in the league this season. Kasper Dolberg had fired Nice ahead only four minutes into the second half. However, Burak Yilmaz smashed home an equaliser just nine minutes later.
Lille should’ve been 2-1 behind in the closing stages too. It’s interesting to note that they were extremely vulnerable from a late free-kick into their box that allowed Nice’s Khephren Thuram a glorious free header from six yards out. However, he could only nod it wide.
The Hoops will travel to France to take on Galtier’s side, who have now won six and drawn three of their nine competitive matches this season. However, thanks to PSG’s 4-0 win at home to Dijon on Saturday, Celtic’s Euro rivals drop down to second on goal difference after the eighth round of matches.
Galtier spoke in comments published by L’Equipe after the match, and he had this to say on the game:
“Sometimes you have to know not to be too picky. We played against a very good team in Nice, who made it a proper match. On our efforts, we deserved the draw. We weren’t as good because Nice was good, and sometimes very good. We’re frustrated of course, but sometimes you have to accept it and not be too choosy.”
Celtic’s tempo needs to be quicker on Thursday night
Nice managed to exploit space directly through the middle of Lille’s defence, but the only way they managed this was with a quick brand of passing after attracting opposition defenders to a certain area of the pitch and creating space elsewhere.
That suggests that Lille can be got at through the centre so long as rivals play at a high tempo. Unfortunately, that’s something Celtic haven’t been operating at ever since the season began.
Of course, that’s not to say we don’t have players who can spot a pass in an instant. We have top talents such as Ryan Christie and Tom Rogic who can thread eye-of-the-needle stuff through defences. However, too often at the minute, it’s taking our flair players too many touches before they release it.
Another aspect of Lille’s game worth mentioning this season is their ability to score first. Dolberg’s goal yesterday was the first time this season that our European rivals have conceded the opener in a match. That may very well show the importance of the first goal on Thursday night.
However, we have to be even quicker than what we showed at Pittodrie yesterday. Even though two of our three goals came from Rogic passes through the centre of the Dons defence – Lille likely would’ve cut them out due to how slow the build-up play was.
So we’ll see how we approach Thursday’s game in France. Lille can be got at, but it remains to be seen if we have what it takes to raise our game to the appropriate levels.