Celtic starting line up: Zaluska, Lustig, van Dijk, Mulgrew, F. Twardzik, Brown, Johansen, Commons, McGeouch, Stokes, Boerrigter
Ronny Deila’s first game in charge of Celtic got off to a solid 3-1 over Russian side FK Krasnodar in Austria.
There was lots of encouraging signs from Celtic in their first game of pre-season. They started quickly when a long ball up from defence fell to Stokes who managed to lob the out coming goalkeeper to put Celtic 1-0 before there was even a minute on the clock. In the early stages of the game Celtic played with a high intensity and a quick passing game that was causing the Russians problems. Zaluska in goals was always looking for a pass to one of the defenders rather than a big hit up field which was refreshing to see. In saying that though the Celtic defence did look abit shaky in the first half which I guess is to be expected since it is the first game of pre season.
A mix up between Commons and Mulgrew led to Krasnodar forward Odil being one on one with Zaluska and scoring to level the scores at 1-1.
After the equaliser Krasnodar became the better team and used their pace down both wings to attack Celtic and it caused a lot of problems for the Celtic defence. Celtic survived the heavy pressure with Zaluska having to make a good save after the pacey Russians got in behind the Celtic defence once more.
Celtic got the ball up field and a seemingly simple pass between the Krasnodar defender and goal keeper proved to be the source of Celtic’s next goal as Johansen took advantage of the mix up between the goal keeper and defender and made it 2-1 on the 42nd minute leading into half time.
Ronny Deila named a completely different 11 for the second half: Fasen, Matthews, O’Connell, Waters, Findlay, Kayal, McGregor, Henderson, Pukki, Griffiths, Atajic.
Second half started lively with everyone looking to impress. Krasnodar nearly took the lead from a corner after a header hit the Celtic bar and was finally cleared.
Celtic then go up the other end and Matthews makes a surging run up the right wing and manages to get the ball into the box where McGregor runs onto it and scores to make it 3-1 to Celtic just after half time.
The second half continued with Celtic using their quick passing to move the ball up the pitch and it was working to good effect. Pukki was unlucky not to add another goal and Fasen impressed in goals for Celtic after he made a series of good, solid saves.
Celtic saw the game out and won 3-1.
Overall I was really encouraged with how Celtic were playing and the persistence to do it even in difficult situations. The quick passing game and keeping the ball on the deck style did catch a few players out with the main example being Commons and Mulgrew’s mistake leading to the first goal but it’s only the first game and mistakes are common. I think Celtic played a little bit too narrow for my liking though, Celtic have some good pacey wide players and I feel we should use them to our advantage. Van Dijk looked as solid as ever in central defence and Celtic really need to keep hold of him this summer if they are to have any chance of getting back into the Champions League. I think the really good performances were in the second half with McGregor looking really good and getting a goal to prove it. Also I thought Kayal played well when he came on, I think this high intensity game suited him because he has lots of energy and will run all day long. Hopefully he performs well in the meaningful games though as I remember him being good in pre season last year aswell. Leo Fasen who came on for Zaluska really impressed me aswell, the way he just dominated the box showed how good a goal keeper he could potentially be.
One thing Celtic really need to improve on is, dealing with corners, there were about 4 or 5 corners that were just left for someone else to get, no one was up there heading the ball away. It nearly cost a couple of goals aswell and it really needs to be worked on because better teams will punish Celtic for it. As I said though, it is pre season and it is good that mistakes happen in these games rather than the one that count. Looking forward to the game against Rapid Vienna now, good to see more and more of this time and the new style Ronny Deila’s trying to implicate on them.