I think it is, I have only saw the highlights of the Ajax versus Barcelona game and it is very difficult to work out whether Barcelona were miles ahead of Ajax or if Ajax just happened to have a slightly off night.
I’ve said before that, for me at least, this is what makes these group games so intriguing. The fact that nobody really knows who will be able to beat each team. I think that in our group, all teams are capable of taking points of any other team in the group.
To think specifically about our match, it was almost a copy of what can happen at Celtic Park when we play against a smaller team. On occasion, the opponent can have most of the ball, look the better team, yet we still win. There’s a few what if moments from the match.
What if Georgios Samaras’ shot had gone in ? What if, instead of taking the shot, he played Stokes in on his left hand side ? What if their player never timed his tackle perfectly when Scott Brown was about to take a shot ? What if Stokes’ free kick was just a touch lower ?
There is a possibility that, had we scored any of these chances, Milan could have stepped it up a gear and scored. Regardless of the ‘what ifs’, we can take plenty of positives from the game.
Our team looked comfortable on the ball. We were fairly accurate with our passing. We were able to defend, for large parts of the game, quite well. Perhaps it was a mental tiredness that has crept in allowing Milan to score the goals. Perhaps Milan were just a fitter team and that is why they were able to get the goal ?
I certainly don’t have any criticisms of the team or coaching staff. I know some fans will but to come away disappointed from the San Siro is no mean feat. Celtic have never won a match in Italy before and there’s possibly a reason for this. Over the years, Italian teams have gained a reputation for being able to soak up pressure, defend very well and nick a goal towards the end of the game.
I suspect that the game versus Milan at Celtic Park will see us face a very different Milan team but the fact remains that we don’t have to fear them. Overall, I say well done to the Celtic and if we can finish third in our group then we probably have a better chance of progressing in the Europa league than we would have in the last 16 of the Champions League.
On to the next few games, two home games against St Johnstone and Morton. Given the efforts of the team in mid-week, I am expecting a very tough game on Saturday but of course, we all know that we have to win these games to ensure we can be in a position to attempt to qualify for the big tournament again next year.
While I have been writing this, I was listening to a podcast on BBC which stated Marion Balotelli swung an elbow at Scott Brown and then went to ground prior to their free kick. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see this properly on the tv due to camera angles. I would like to hope that if they have had to resort to cheating to beat us, then we can get our revenge at home. I would also hope that UEFA will take action and issue the deserved red card for the unpunished elbow.