Tuesday 21st July 2020
Parc Des Princes. Paris.
Kick Off: 6pm U.K.
PSG 4-0 CELTIC
SCORERS: Mbappe (1) Neymar (25) Herrera (48) Sarabia (66)
CELTIC: Bain, Jullien, Taylor, Bitton, Ajer, Christie, Ntcham, Edourd, Elyounoussi, Frimpong, McGregor,
PSG: Navas, Kehrer, Marquinhos, Silva, Bakker, Gueye, Paredes, Di Maria, Mbappé, Neymar, Icardi.
The last time we made a visit to this address we crawled away licking our wounds after a 7-1 mauling by PSG on the 22nd November 2017. The Parisian team has only improved since then and it left plenty of raised eyebrows at the decision of Celtic’s hierarchy to revisit the scene of the crime. Paris Saint-Germain are bursting at the seams with boundless talent and so much that even their subs could walk into any team in the world. I think it was best summed up by the Hoops Gaffer Neil Lennon when he commented afterward, “Sometimes the players need to see the game at that level for what it is, and how far you have to strive to get there. Hopefully they can take a lot from it physically and mentally.”
The Ligue one Champions manager Tomas Tuchel made his intentions clear by fielding his strongest 11 to kick off against their Scottish counterparts. A frontline trio of Mbappé, Neymar and Icardi would be enough to give any opposition nosebleeds and within 53 seconds Mbappé gave Celtic a * nose. A lovely weighted pass by Neyamr made through to French striker Kylian Mbappé, who continues to show intellect beyond his 21 years, to waltz through the middle of the Celtic defence and calmly fire past Scott Bain in goal. Not a great start for Glasgow’s finest but suppose it's to be expected against footballs equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Celtic without Scott Brown, who suffered a knock in training, had passed the captaincy onto Calum McGregor. He was paired up with Olivier Ntcham in the middle of the park and both were instrumental in seeing Celtic grow into the game with some fine passages of play. Along with Christie and a growing partnership of Taylor and Elyounoussi on the left, we looked comfortable on the ball and the passing was neat. It carried us until the 25th minute when Brazilian playmaker Neymar picked the ball up 14 yards out and hit a deflection off the legs of defender Nir Bitton and diverted away past Scott Bain and into the goal to make it 2-0. Celtic gathered themselves and regrouped to start again. As the final minutes of the first half ebbed away an in swinging free kick by Christie from the right was met by a rising Jullien who saw his header crash off the left hand post.
The second half saw the introduction of the talent that PSG has at their disposal with players like Herrera, Draxler and Verratti entering the fray among others. It yielded a further two goals for the home side and the first coming from Herrera in just 48 minutes. The whole Celtic defence seemed to be drawn by the ball and Marco Verratti to the byline on the left, he lifted it perfectly over to the right for Herrera on the edge of the box to stroke home for the third goal. The goal of the game would arrive in 66 minutes and the supplier again was Verratti. He again lifted the ball beautifully over the Celtic defence and right onto the boot of Pablo Sarabia who volleyed it right past Bain and into the right of the net to make it 4-0.
This score line by no means reflects the effort put in by Celtic. This PSG team on form score 4 or 5 goals regular against any opposition. It was a far more worthwhile exercise to play this high standard of opposition than taking on lower league German or Austrian teams. Ntcham was a standout until he was replaced by Rogic, Christie was showing flashes of brilliance and McGregor done well with his captaincy role. I would hope that our defence can take a lesson out of losing the goals and the importance of getting close to their opponent. Scott Bain will not do as number one choice between the sticks. We definitely need a better quality for the season ahead. As for the opposition, they can go up two gears whenever they feel like it. Unfortunately they have a top talent in Neymar who does not have an ounce of class or grace about him. Such a despicable little man who does himself no favours.
Celtic now look forward to the new season with Hamilton arriving to face the Champions of Scotland on the 2nd of August at Celtic Park. Hopefully we can see the return of fans pretty quickly to get behind the Bhoys for our challenge for 10 league titles in a row. It’s going to be a pretty strange start to this campaign as we fulfill last season’s Scottish cup duties with a Hampden date against Aberdeen on Sunday 1st of November. The final will take place in the same venue on the 20th of December. It would be so nice to win a quadruple treble in time for Christmas but there is work to be done to get there.