One of today's biggest Celtic concerns

By David Walton

April 17, 2022

Today couldn’t have gone any worse for Celtic after losing to Rangers in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden.

Indeed, the Hoops came up short in a hugely disappointing performance that ended in a 2-1 defeat. The result means that the treble hopes harboured by Celtic are now over as we look ahead to trying to wrap up the Scottish Premiership title.

You can lose derby matches. Especially ones that go the distance. That’s part and parcel of football at the end of the day. It happens and you move on. Rangers, for example, had lost the last 2 heading into today.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

What was, for me anyway, the most baffling thing was how much fitter they looked over the course of 120 minutes. Despite playing on Thursday night, it appeared to be our players falling to the deck needing treatment more than anything.

The idea heading into this game was that the longer it went on, the better it was going to be for Celtic. Yet we ended up creating next to no chances in extra time with our players tiring towards the end of the match.

Rangers, conversely, had a massive spring in their step come full-time after pulling level. That carried them into extra time and they ended up dominating the 30-minute period. Nobody can say they didn’t deserve to win that match, not when you look at how we performed compared to our rivals.

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Celtic didn’t look up for the 120 minute fight

But why so much sloppiness came into our game in those extra 30 minutes is anyone’s guess. Cameron Carter-Vickers looked as though another few minutes would’ve done him in. The same goes for Carl Starfelt and Greg Taylor in particular. It’s no wonder the latter had to come off given how shattered he looked.

As soon as this game went into extra time, it was an opportunity for Celtic to seize the initiative. To take advantage of the tired legs our rivals most certainly would’ve had. That we didn’t, and ended up crumbling ourselves, is a big concern.

As stated previously, you can lose derbies. Rangers are a good side on their day and deserved the win. But did anyone truly believe we were going to even create another chance after their winner? It never looked like happening because the players, at that stage, looked dead on their feet.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

It will be interesting to see what Ange has to say on this. It’s certainly an issue and not something that can just be brushed under the carpet. We had the full week to prepare for this one and looked leggy well before those final 30 minutes kicked in.

Hopefully, this is something that’s addressed before the final derby game at Celtic Park. But it’s cost us a huge opportunity. A treble-winning opportunity.

We move on to next Sunday’s trip to Ross County where we need an instant response. Today needs to be a write-off.