Stephen Welsh shows real improvement with no-nonsense Celtic approach

By David Walton

July 21, 2021

There were so many questions being asked of Stephen Welsh heading into last night’s game between Celtic and Midtjylland.

With Kris Ajer more or less off to Brentford, we were left badly short. A centre-back pairing of Nir Bitton and Welsh had the latter looking like the one most likely to struggle. After all, we were relying on Bitton’s experience to see us through last night.

In the end, it was Welsh who ended up wowing supporters with a superb individual display. Meanwhile, his centre-back partner was sent off for an absolutely idiotic second yellow card offence.

Welsh had to play alongside young Lennoxtown talent Dane Murray for the second 45. They’ll likely be the centre-back pairing for the return leg next Wednesday. Alongside both partners, Welsh took up the role of no-nonsense defender.

Midtjylland didn’t overly threaten from open play. However, they had some moments in and around our penalty area. The vast majority of them were dealt by the imposing Welsh, who went back to basics last night.

Celtic 1-1 FC Midtjylland | LIVE Reaction

Stephen Welsh showed real understanding of his Celtic role

The Scotland under-21 international’s decision-making was exceptional all night. He managed four recoveries, three clearances, and two interceptions as he consistently halted Midtjylland [FotoMob].

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Welsh didn’t look to be over-elaborate in possession. When he won the ball, he simply gave it to players who were in a better position to do something with it. This is shown in his passing stats. Welsh made the most passes of the game with 65, with the highest successful passing percentage rate of 96%. He only went for three long balls all game, and all three were successful [FotoMob].

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

He didn’t go on long runs with the ball, but did push high to force the opposition backwards. This is shown in the fact 17 of his passes were in the opposition half. He knew what his skill set was and it was to be a Celtic ball-winner. That’s what he stuck to, and he’s quite rightly earned a lot of praise for his efficiency last night.

Of course, we saw plenty of Welsh last season. He made 21 appearances in what could be considered a breakthrough season [Transfermarkt]. But it’s fair to say last night he showed a marked improvement from his general displays last term.

The Celtic support haven’t simply let it go without comment either. Welsh eased a lot of nerves over that backline yesterday, and fans have taken to Twitter to big him up for it.

In other news: Chris Sutton laughs off potential Celtic to Burnley route for Ryan Christie