'Look at the data' - Celtic intensity criticism questioned by Jota amid absence of key duo
The 22-year-old left winger and his wide-right counterpart Liel Abada have stood apart as Ange Postecoglou’s forward line appears to have been drained of their vibrancy across a tumultuous recent form slump. A spell that has hardly set them up as desired for Thursday’s Europa League visit of an in-form Bayer Leverkusen that have only Bayern Munich ahead of them at the top of the Bundesliga.
Celtic’s travails have been indisputably exacerbated by Kyogo Furuhashi injury absence, while, without any obvious alternatives for rotational purposes, playmakers Tom Rogic and David Turnbull have been left looking leggy.
As Celtic have won only one of their past four league games, and lost four straight away encounters across all competitions, it has appeared that the high press, and intensity to go after opponents, has been diluted. Jota, though, will have no truck with such an assessment.
‘You think we don’t have intensity of few weeks back… then you have to look at the data!” he said. “The data doesn’t tell you that. So I’m not sure if that’s correct, but I respect the opinion [though] I have to disagree. I don’t think our intensity is less than the previous weeks. I think we are doing quite well in terms of intensity. The only thing is that we need to score the chances we have and keep on working because things will, for sure, be good for us in the future.”
Jota is willing to send out just as strong a message over the players Celtic been deprived of through injury in recent weeks – and will be again against Leverkusen. A neurosis has enveloped the club’s support over the loss of captain Callum McGregor in addition to top scorer Furuhashi, as others such as James Forrest, Mikey Johnston, Greg Taylor and Christopher Jullien have been sidelined. The Portuguese maintains there is nothing to be served by becoming fatalistic over unavailability of key performers and that concentration must be on those players Postecoglou can pick.
‘Every player at Celtic is important – not just Callum and Kyogo,” he said. “We are all part of the team. I really want everyone to be fit so everyone can help the team. It’s a long process, and a long season. We need everyone to be available to help us win the games and to bring glory to the club. We are just waiting for everyone to be fit.
“But that’s not the main focus right now. We just need to focus on the game and be ready. Everyone in the squad is ready for it. Whoever goes to the pitch will have enough quality to play and to fight for the victory. We will be ready, for sure, with the ones we have and we will enjoy it. We will stick with our plans, be a family on the pitch and work our hardest to get the win. They have their strengths and we have ours. We need to eliminate their strengths and be ready for everything.”
The Celtic FC Foundation’s Football for Good Fund – set up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic – has now raised £1.5m. The money will help those facing food and fuel poverty and provide mental health support to those who need it most in Scotland, Ireland, the wider UK, and overseas.
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