Paul Lambert's high praise for top Celtic performer vs Real Madrid

By John McGinley

September 11, 2022

Paul Lambert has some high praise for Celtic captain Callum McGregor this weekend, stating that he didn’t look out of place up against the world-class midfield of Real Madrid.

McGregor tested himself against Luka Modric and Toni Kross mid-week, two living legends of the game. Nonetheless, the Celtic midfielder produced an accomplished performance, especially in the first half when it looked like the Bhoys could really give Madrid a fight.

Lambert, who has won the Champions League with Borussia Dortmund, was left impressed.

Photo by Silvestre Szpylma/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

He told The Sunday Post [11/09 print edition, page 74]: “I look at Callum, and he is at the heart of everything that’s good with the team. Against Real Madrid the other evening, he was right on it. He drove the team on and provided composure and assurance.

“He nearly gave Celtic the lead, and it would have been interesting to see how the game would have unfolded if that had been the case. He didn’t look out of place in that company and never got flustered. His temperament is spot on. I also see improvement in his game. He checks over his shoulder when he’s receiving a pass. He creates nice angles when he receives the ball from his team-mates.

“I also like the fact he is willing to make the five and 10-yard passes. He keeps the ball moving, and pulls opponents all over the place. Some players always look to make a 40-yard diagonal, or the defencesplitting pass, but Callum puts the team first rather than personal glory. The short passes aren’t as glamorous, but they are every bit as important. Any player or a manager will tell you that.”

McGregor is going to be such a key presence throughout this Group F run. Going away to Shakhtar Donetsk this week, we’ll again be relying on his calm presence in the midfield area to get a foothold in the game.

I agree with Lambert’s assessment that anything good coming out of this team in Europe is going to be in part because McGregor is playing well. It’s crucial he raises his game and leads by example.

This match in Poland is going to tell us a lot about Celtic’s direction in the group. If we’re all talking about a strong McGregor performance on Thursday, there’s every chance the team will have secured a strong result.

In other news, Celtic winger Mikey Johnston gets “player with quality” praise after debut in Portugal.