Callum McGregor hits back at 'hype' around Celtic defending as captain defends set-piece record

Celtic captain Callum McGregor has questioned the “narrative” that has grown up around his team’s defending from set-pieces.

The 28-year-old maintains “hype” over the issue of goals they have lost in this fashion has prevented any nuance being applied to the situation.

The three goals shipped by Celtic at home to Bodo/Glimt that leaves them requiring to overturn a 3-1 deficit in Thursday’s Conference League play-off return all came from open play. However, either side of this defeat, they were breached twice by Aberdeen and Dundee from deadballs into the box - three free-kicks and a corner kick doing the damage.

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These concessions mean that nine of the 17 Premiership goals opponents netted against them this season have come from set-pieces, with 10 of these goals the product of headers. Yet, the fact that Celtic boast the best defensive record in the top flight prompts McGregor to believe that observers ought to be looking at the underlying conclusion that can be read into the defensive set-up of Ange Postecoglou’s side.

Callum McGregor trains ahead of Celtic's Europa Conference League second leg against Bodo/Glimt. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
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"There seems to be a hype round Celtic conceding set-piece goals or not being strong enough at set-plays or whatever the narrative is,” the Scotland international said. "But I think it is only heightened by the fact that we don't concede too many goals at all. Everybody starts to analyse where the goals are coming from and it seems to be set-plays. That's pretty much the only way teams are getting in the box to get chances, so, in a flip sense, we have defended really well that teams are having to get set-pieces to get chances on goals.

"Of course the goals we lost at the weekend were disappointing in the sense of the ball bounces inside the six-yard box at the first one, we have to be much stronger defensively in terms of when the ball comes in the box we have to take responsibilty and that is a collective, not an individual thing. But I don't want to make it into a big story that Celtic can't defend set plays, it is a little bit more than that."

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