Credit: “Celtic FC – FC Barcelona-5” by Jose A. Segura is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Celtic suffered a shock defeat on Thursday when they were defeated by the Norwegian Champions FK Bodø/Glimt.
Celtic are currently flying high in domestic football this season after a slow start due to a massive rebuild which took place in the summer. They are as it stands one point ahead of their rivals across the city Rangers, and they lifted the first piece of silverware available to them in December with their victory over Hibernian in the Premier Sports Cup Final.
The Hoops also finished third in their Europa League group behind Bayer Leverkusen and Real Betis. This meant that they had fell into the newest European club competition the UEFA Europa Conference League, which led to them drawing Norwegian Champions FK Bodø/Glimt in the first knockout round.
In the build-up to the game, it seemed like Celtic were the clear favourites because of the difference in wage budgets between the two teams and due to the fact that only two weeks ago Celtic tore apart their bitter rivals Rangers to go top of the league. Another big reason though why Celtic were seen as massive favourites was because the Norwegian side had lost a couple of their best players in the January window, and to add to that the game against Celtic would be there first competitive game since December.
Six minutes into the European tie at Celtic Park the Norwegian champions turned the crowd volume down from 100 to 0 as they took a shock lead early on. Very quickly in this game Celtic fans and the Celtic players you would presume found out that Bodo/Glimt were just as sharp as them.
Credit: Image by Nasya Bahfen is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
After a poor first half you would have thought Ange Postecoglou maybe would have made some changes going into the second half, but as the two sides came back out no changes were made. Ten minutes after the restart Bodo/Glimt doubled their lead, this led to the Celtic manager to make changes. Though a lot of Celtic fans may say that the changes should have been made at half time.
Celtic were given a glimpse of hope when Japanese forward Daizen Maeda made it 2-1, but that was short lived as the Norwegian side doubled their lead once again a couple of mins after Maeda’s goal. Bodo/Glimt went on to win the game 3-1 giving them a big advantage going into the second leg.
The thing a lot of people maybe would have been shocked at before the game was that Reo Hatate had been dropped to the bench. Since the Japanese midfielder joined Celtic last month, he has stepped up big time for the club. Tom Rogic was preferred over Hatate and he didn’t have has finest outing this season but to be fair to the Aussie he has been one of Celtic’s most important players this season.
A big reason why Celtic were defeated was because of when they lost the ball the midfield, they didn’t look like they were going to retain the ball as much as they usually do when Reo Hatate is on the pitch. This is because of how much of the pitch the midfielder covers in a game, and he has also showed so far this season that he is very good at running back and helping the defenders which Celtic looked like they needed on Thursday night.
But it wasn’t just the midfield who weren’t at it for Celtic, all over the park it looked an off night for most of the players on the park. So, if Celtic are going to have any chance of overturning the aggregate score line Reo Hatate starting for them will be essential to bring balance to the middle of the pitch.
Though you’ve got to think Celtic fans will not be confident going into the second leg as they will know well by now that Celtic have not won a European knockout tie in eighteen years. Recent losses include Copenhagen, Zenit, and Valencia, though every streak no matter how good or bad must eventually come to an end.