Celtic’s Champions League campaign was always going to be a difficult one, as the Scots were handed what looked like a nightmare group draw,
The Scottish champions were drawn alongside Spanish giants Barcelona, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and German side Borussia Monchengladbach in Europe’s elite competition.
Their first game of the campaign a trip the Nou Camp to face Barcelona was a daunting one and it turned into a harsh footballing lesson, as the Catalan giant’s trounced Brendan Rodgers side 7-0.
Very different emotions
At the weekend the Hoops were celebrating a 5-1 derby win over Rangers in the SPL, as striker Moussa Dembele grabbed a hat-trick. On Tuesday night the Hoops suffered very different emotions.
Young striker Dembele had a chance to make his mark from the penalty spot at 1-0 to Barcelona, but he saw his spot-kick saved by Barcelona ‘keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen. Lionel Messi went on to grab a second of the half, before five goals in the second half from the Blaugrana.
Messi scored his hat-trick, while Luis Suarez scored a brace with Neymar and Andres Iniesta also getting their names on the scoresheet. All in all, it was a nightmare night for Rodgers and his side on their return to Europe’s elite competition.
In a different league
Celtic captain, Scott Brown apologised to the club’s fans for the display after the game and called the performance ‘unacceptable’. However, they were simply up against players that were in a different league.
Celtic have not participated in the Champions League group stages in the last two campaigns. Former-boss Ronny Deila failed to take the Hoops past the play-off stage. In truth, the gap in class was massive.
Former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was brought in to take the Scottish champions to the next level. In one way he has achieved more than Deila in the fact that the Hoops are even in the group stages.
Rodgers was not brought in to help the team to domestic dominance, as they already have that, as their recent hammering of Rangers proved. He was brought in to raise the standard of the Celtic team and help the team achieve something other than disappointment in Europe.
Unfortunately, he did, that was complete and utter humiliation. The result was only one goal short of their biggest ever defeat in competitive football which came way back in 1937 when they were hammered 8-0 by Motherwell.
Celtic are always going to struggle to compete in European competition because of the standard of opposition they face week-in-week-out in their domestic league, as there is very little competition in the SPL.
Another reason for the Hoops struggling in Europe is the standard of players that join the club. The likes of Scott Sinclair, Dorus de Vries and Kolo Toure are all considered as players not good enough to play in the English Premier League anymore. Young striker Moussa Dembele moved to Celtic to develop and play in the Champions League no doubt.
He may have missed a penalty against Barcelona, but he is regarded as a highly promising young striker and is unlikely to be at Celtic long if he keeps impressing. There lies the problem. When the Hoops do have promising players they are soon snapped up by clubs from bigger leagues.
Celtic does not have a mega-rich owner who can sign top-class players, so it means the club have to sign players who were jettisoned by Premier League clubs. It takes a very astute boss to help those sorts of players over-perform. I suppose that’s why Rodgers was brought to the club.
Hoping to avoid bottom spot
The Hoops are now odds of 25/1 to repeat the feat of season 2012/13 by reaching the knockout stages of the competition. That season the Hoops defeated Barcelona 2-1 at Celtic Park. There seems little chance of a repeat of that scoreline either this season.
Rodgers team’s aspirations will probably not be to make the knockout stages, but to avoid finishing bottom of the group and then to drop down into the Europa League. Even that could be a tall order, as Borussia Monchengladbach, considered as the next weakest team to Celtic in the group are a decent team.
Everybody associated with the Scottish club needs to forget about this result and hope for better results in their remaining games, as Barcelona are one of the favourites for the trophy, so they were likely to be formidable opposition and always going to win this clash handsomely.
Was 7-0 a fair reflection of the Barcelona v Celtic game?