Quick links

Celtic

3 Tactical Tweaks: how Celtic could upset the odds and beat PSG

Celtic's head coach Brendan Rodgers talks during a press conference in Brussels on September 26, 2017 on the eve of the Champions League group B) football match against RSC Anderlecht.

Celtic face an impossible task in the Champions League on Wednesday; they must travel to France and overcome the indomitable Paris Saint-Germain.

Celtic Manager Brendan Rodgers and players applaud the fans at the end of the UEFA Champions League Match  between Celtic and Paris Saint Germain at Celtic Park Stadium on September 12,...

Celtic come into the contest with just 3 points so far and have to take on a PSG side that has 12 points after winning all 4 of their previous games, scoring 17 times and conceding 0.

If Celtic could conjure up a victory against the high-flying Parisians, it would be almost as colossal as their victories over Barcelona and AC Milan in years gone by. But just how could they upset the odds and beat PSG?

Here are three tactical tweaks that could help them do the job:

1. Sit deep and be compact

Bayern Munich's Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez (C) vies with Celtic's Swedish defender Mikael Lustig (R) during the UEFA Champions League Group B football match between Celtic and...

PSG's front three are all absurdly quick. Neymar and Kylian Mbappé are both capable of breaking the sound barrier when they get going. To counter that, Celtic have to sit deep and be compact. They should not only allow little space behind them, but also make sure there's no gaps between their midfield and defence where PSG could build attacks.

2. Play two-man attacks with a third-man running

Moussa Dembele of Celtic shoots past Jerome Boateng of Bayern Muenchen and during the UEFA Champions League group B match between Celtic FC and Bayern Muenchen at Celtic Park on October 31,...

Brendan Rodgers is an adventurous coach. His teams always set up to be proactive and exciting. That's great, but against PSG it would open him up to getting ripped apart on the break. So to build off the idea of sitting deep and being compact; when Celtic are going to attack they should only do so with two men.

Let Moussa Dembélé and Leigh Griffiths run a two-man attack, working with each other to find space on the break and hurt PSG, and then let them be joined by late runs from Scott Sinclair. Attacking with so few men would mean PSG would pile more men forward and, as long as the Celtic defence holds, there could be ample chances on the break.

3. Be aggressive from the start

Scott Brown of Celtic tackles Javi Martinez of Bayern Muenchen during the Champions League group B match between Celtic FC and Bayern Muenchen at Celtic Park on October 31, 2017 in Glasgow,...

This is not say Celtic should go around kicking lumps out of the PSG players, but they absolutely must be physical from the first minute. The key to getting away with an overly-aggressive style of play is to be consistent with it. Referees won't punish you for every foul you do, so if you do them all the time you'll get away with more.

In this aspect, Brendan Rodgers should take a cue from Diego Simeone's Atlético Madrid, a bruising side who routinely get away with legions of yellow card-worthy tackles simply because they overwhelm the referee with them. They set those kind of fouls as the norm, so only exceptionally violent or late ones get punished. Neymar in particular has shown a propensity to get rattled when consistently subjected to physical play that referees overlook, and wining up their best player is the smart way to go.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch