Three things we learned as Celtic earn entertaining Nice draw

By Hamish Carton

July 16, 2020

Celtic got their 2020/2021 season underway with an engrossing friendly draw against French side OGC Nice.

Kasper Dolberg put the Ligue 1 side ahead after Odsonne Edouard’s opener was wrongly ruled out by VAR.

But Neil Lennon’s Hoops responded in the second-half after making eleven changes, with Patryk Klimala netting his first for the club after a bad mistake from Nice keeper Yoan Cardinale.

Klimala scores for Celtic (Photo by JEFF PACHOUD/AFP via Getty Images)

Friendly matches are often about the performance and fitness rather than the result. But here are three things we learned from the clash in Lyon’s Groupama Stadium.

Closed door games are not as bad when your team is playing

Okay, it was only a friendly. And there were a handful of spectators inside the vast 60,000 arena.

But the fact that the game was played virtually behind closed doors didn’t seem as jarring as in non-Celtic matches.

Your attention was less focused on that, mainly because you were engrossed in your team’s action.

James Forrest in action against Nice (Photo by JEFF PACHOUD/AFP via Getty Images)

Add a little bit of canned crowd noise, and we should be good to go for the Premiership opener against Hamilton at the start of August.

Job done.

VAR didn’t work at all

VAR may have worked okay, and even awarded us a penalty, in the Europa League tie against Copenhagen, but it was badly lacking in this clash.

There was nothing wrong with Odsonne Edouard’s opener against Nice. Sure, he may have been just offside, but the ball had ricocheted off a Nice player and not Ryan Christie.

A referee getting that wrong would be forgivable. VAR getting it wrong after five minutes of deliberation was shameful.

Why it’s being used in a friendly competition in the first place is another question.

Celtic would do alright in Ligue 1

Okay, I’m not saying we’d win the French top-flight. I think Neymar and co. may have something to say about that.

But if the last 12 months have proven anything it’s that we’d be near the top of the Ligue 1 table.

Celtic excelled against Rennes (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

After battering Rennes, who would go on to finish 3rd, in the Europa League last season, this was another example of Celtic being better than a leading French side.

We looked stronger than Nice for most of the game in Lyon, and that was with Patrick Vieira’s side already having played two friendlies earlier this month.

Fingers crossed we get another French team in Europe this season. As long as they’re not from Paris.