'It is impossible': Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou speaks out on European football struggle

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou believes football standards European-wide will inevitably take a hit over the next month through the fixture-cramming necessitated by scheduling the Qatar World Cup over November/December.

Celtic's Jota was forced to sit out the second half at Perth with muscle fatigue that has placed his availablity for the Champions League encounter with RB Leipzig in doubt. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Celtic's Jota was forced to sit out the second half at Perth with muscle fatigue that has placed his availablity for the Champions League encounter with RB Leipzig in doubt. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

The Scottish champions will undertake their third of 13 games in 44 days when they host RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday evening, a workload the Australian considers excessive and that can only impact adversely on quality. It will afford the 57-year-old “zero” time to work with his full squad on the training pitch and he finds himself in agreement with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who has long petitioned that reducing the number of games played at the highest echelons would improve the product and protect players’ welfare.

“If you want top level performances, you need – as in any other profession – the people who are the most important, the players, to be able to recover if you want to maintain performances,” the Celtic manager said. “It is just the way it is. With 13 games in 44 days, it is impossible for us, or any other club for that matter, to maintain a level of performance with that sort of workload. We try to manage that through having a squad and rotating the team, which I think is important, and just making sure our players are well looked after.

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“[But] I think it is too much of a burden [when] you look at the level of games you have got to play [in the 13]. We played Wednesday night in Leipzig, we got home on Thursday at 3am and we played at lunchtime on Saturday. The players had just recovered from that trip and they are playing again tomorrow night [Tuesday] and then on Saturday afternoon. We are jamming a lot of games into a short space of time because of the World Cup.”

That tight timescales have placed a doubt over winger Jota’s availability for Leipzig, after the Portuguese was forced off at half-time of Saturday’s last-gasp win away to St Johnstone with muscle fatigue. ‘We’ll just wait and see," said Postecoglou, expected to have Mortiz Jenz and David Turnbull available after both missed out at Perth with illness. "He’s still a bit sore from the weekend so we’ll make a decision tomorrow.”

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