The difference in Celtic that should make light work of Livingston
Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou would be forgiven for taking a minute to exhale after last night, but another test awaits in the form of Livingston.
The West Lothian club and their plastic pitch have represented real danger for Celtic over the last couple of seasons.
In 2019, a surprise 2-0 defeat had Christopher Jullien apologising to supporters [Glasgow Times]. In the freezing cold this January, the Bhoys were held to a 2-2 draw [BBC] that added to the pressure on boss Neil Lennon. Scott Brown was even sent off in a bruising, physical affair.
But after last night, despite losing, you have the hope that our days of being nervous before a trip to Livingston are over. The key difference this time is that, under Postecoglou, this Celtic team will attack relentlessly.
We saw it last night. In the heat of Seville, despite losing, Celtic had a higher xG than Betis and created a ridiculous 15 chances [FotMob]. Against Ross County, we created 19 opportunities. 37, against St Mirren [FotMob]. That was one I had to read over a few times.
Domestically, Celtic have shown that, at home, they’re more than capable of making opportunities for themselves.
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The real test, though, was in the conditions in Seville. No away fans, incredible heat and a hostile atmosphere didn’t affect the Bhoys going forward.
After that, a trip to the Tony Macaroni doesn’t seem so daunting.
Celtic overcoming Livingston away would set a real marker
Perhaps we’re giving too much respect to Livingston here. After 5 games, they sit rooted to the table, with a solitary point [BBC].
Except, that’s what adds the peril, somewhat. They’re going to raise their game against us, and make no mistake. David Martindale seems particularly keen on denting Celtic hopes.
Yes, the plastic pitch is a problem. Only really, though, if your attacking play is one-dimensional and focused on passing it around low to work opportunities.
Postecoglou’s side seem much better-equipped to deliver crosses, quickly work opportunities and test opposition goalkeepers from a variety of positions and situations.
In years prior, there was reliance on Odsonne Edouard and, to a lesser extent, Mohamed Elyounoussi and David Turnbull to unlock teams with moments of individual magic.
Now, Postecoglou has a team where really, anyone can score. Whether you’re Cameron Carter-Vickers, Albian Ajeti or whoever. The chance is, you’ll have a chance, provided you’re wearing Green and White.
That’s the difference. Last night was the litmus test to see whether Celtic, in tough conditions, could still create a smorgasbord of opportunities.
Now, a trip to West Lothian doesn’t carry quite the same fear.
In other news: Joe Hart reacts to being Celtic captain on Instagram