Craig Fowler gives his take after Celtic were defeated again on their travels in Europe, this time away to RB Leipzig.
The first 20 minutes were a false dawn
Celtic looked reasonable in the opening exchanges. The weren’t overrun and even managed to fashion a good chance through Odsonne Edouard. However, it soon became evident that Leipzig had yet to change out of first gear (it’s debatable whether they did all night) and Celtic were having trouble making the ball stick in attack. The absence of so many stars obviously made an impact but, in the end, they showed even less fight than in Salzburg. Besides, shouldn’t Celtic’s squad, described as too big by Brendan Rodgers, be able to replace quality with quality?
Edouard is not yet a Dembele replacement
It’s on this stage where Celtic rue the departure of Moussa Dembele the most. Edouard, like his countryman, is a constant goal threat and can latch onto or fashion a chance out of nowhere, but he lacks the savvy to lead the line against a tough opponent. Dembele would routinely give opposing centre-backs a tiresome 90 minutes. Edouard is often dispossessed too easily, allowing the opposition to pin Celtic deep in their own half.
The Boyata Fallacy
We were led to believe that, had Dedryck Boyata made himself available to play in the fatal Champions League qualifier against AEK Athens, Celtic would have gone through. But there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary, with Thursday evening a prime example. One of the many shaky moments was the opening goal, where the Belgian was caught on his heels after Eboue Kouassi swiped and missed at a routine cross.
The second half was an improvement
It was small comfort as Celtic rarely threatened in the second period and never looked like mounting a comeback. But they did look more solid in the 3-4-3 and, for Rodgers, desperately trying to find the right formula to get his side competing on the continent, it may be worth trying again.