Paul Lambert hits back at Celtic pre-season negativity

By Euan Davidson

July 27, 2021

Former Celtic captain Paul Lambert has given his vote of confidence to Ange Postecoglou’s young side.

Lambert, who starred for Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League-winning campaign, and hoovered up trophies with the Bhoys, says not to worry about pre-season; it’s Midtjylland who matter this week.

And the former Celtic captain thinks the Bhoys have the wherewithal to get a result. He said [Sun]:

“They’ve lost a couple of games and it doesn’t help that Rangers beat Real Madrid 2-1 on Sunday, because it looks as though Celtic are struggling while Rangers are cruising.

“But beating Midtjylland would change everything for Ange. For a start, that 6-2 result would immediately be forgotten.

“It would give him and the youngsters and the new arrivals a huge shot of confidence.

“It wouldn’t get any easier after that because they’re almost certain to play PSV Eindhoven in the third qualifying round but people would cut you more slack if you went out to PSV.

“In any case, I watched the first leg and thought that Celtic were the better team. They looked good middle-to-front and it’s well within their capabilities to get a result on Wednesday night.”

Despite the weekend defeat to West Ham United, there’s an obvious difference in intensity when it comes to competitive matches. Celtic looked a bit sluggish and discombobulated against Preston, before an energetic display against the Danes.

Paul Lambert is right: nobody will talk about friendlies if Celtic get positive result

Ultimately, friendlies don’t matter. It’d be a real shame if Ange Postecoglou’s early reign at Celtic is defined by what happened against West Ham United in pre-season.

Last week should have given Celtic supporters plenty of encouragement. It was a game the Bhoys really ought to have won, having dominated possession and got the lion’s share of chances in the game.

Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

The Hoops had an xG of 1.99, whereas Midtjylland? 0.12 [FotMob]. Stats don’t tell the whole picture, but it’s a more than decent summary of how that game went.

Over in Mid-Jutland, the Bhoys can certainly reach those levels again, and beyond. A more clinical, sharper Celtic would’ve won 2 or 3-1. That’s the only reason friendlies have significance; to build match sharpness for the bigger occasions.

So, Lambert is right: nobody will remember any exhibition matches if Celtic can negotiate this round of qualifying. It’d certainly be more than was expected of us by many, ahead of the tie.

Read more: Leigh Griffiths not on the plane for second leg