Celtic put in a disjointed display against Anderlecht, losing 0-1 in the Champions League but progressing to the Europa League. What did we learn?
1. Olivier Ntcham is lowkey essential
When listing players who are fundamental to Celtic and the way they play, you'd probably list 5 or so people before you even thought of 21 year-old Olivier Ntcham. Yet this young Frenchman has proven himself fundamental to the way Celtic want to play.
Last night Celtic were utterly lost in the first-half. Completely played off the park by an Anderlecht side that needed to win by 3 goals or more. Then Ntcham came on at half-time, and suddenly Celtic had some rhythm to their play.
Sure, Anderlecht scored whilst Ntcham was on the pitch, but in general Celtic played more more assurance and confidence and that was almost entirely because of Ntcham. He may not show up on the stat sheet but he has an energising presence to the rest of the Celtic side and should be starting every game.
2. Henry Onyekuru could be very, very special for Everton
One of the biggest winners of tonight's game was Everton manager Sam Allardyce. Seeing young winger Henry Onyekuru, who Everton signed in the summer but loaned back to Anderlecht for the season, absolutely slice and dice on a big Champions League occasion would have brought joy to his eyes.
Everton are crying out for pace and invention from the wings, and Onyekuru provides them with precisely that. He completed 2/3 dribbles and created 1 chance, but more than that he carried the ball with a sense of purpose and constantly had Parkhead on edge. At just 20 years-old, he could be an Everton superstar for a decade to come.
3. Celtic need to make Parkhead a fortress again
This season at Parkhead in the Champions League, Celtic played 3 games and lost all of them. They scored just 1 goal and conceded 8. Alright two of their opponents were European elite sides PSG and Bayern Munich. But even when faced with the prospect of Anderlecht, a side they beat 0-3 earlier in the season, they folded.
The talent level of the Celtic side is such that they simply must return Parkhead to the crackling fortress it used to be. It's no longer enough to have a rousing sing-song before each match. The stadium must be fizzing with the kind of electric atmosphere that intimidated Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United, Carlo Ancelotti's Milan and Tito Vilanova's Barcelona.
There was a time when great sides feared Celtic Park. If the Glaswegians want to progress in the Europa League, that time will have to come again.
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