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Celtic v Midtjylland (Review)

Celtic 1

(Abada 39) xG 1.79

Midjtylland 1

(Ferreira 66) xG 0.12

At kick off our probabilities of winning the game were 48.2% (a defeat 24.1% and draw 27.7%).

Celtic supporters were waiting with anticipation of Ange’s first team selection and the guesswork had started days before. My predicted team was out by 2 as I (like others) was unaware Abada was available and I also thought Ajeti would get the nod given he had played 67% of the minutes in the friendlies (starting every game) versus Edouard’s 29%. Well done to @PaulJohnDykes who had predicted the team correctly days before.

The team line up was as opposite with the % amount of minutes each player had played in the friendlies before this match.

The player who had played the most amount of minutes (Montgomery with 72%) didn’t make the starting line up. Other players missing out were Shaw 62% and Murray 59%.

The formation was 433 with inverted full backs. The midfield changed at times from McGregor left/Turnbull right of deep lying Soro to McGregor/Soro deep with Turnbull in front in the hole. Murray, Ajeti and Rogic came on as subs.

The first half was good for Celtic and we had an xG of 1.43 for the first half with xGA of 0. Not bad for a make shift and inexperienced defence. We also had 202 accurate passes versus Midjtylland’s 82 and we had 8 shots at goal with 88% of them in the box (a big improvement on last year). However the end of the first half was disastrous as Bitton got himself sent off for poking an opponent in the face. Totally unavoidable and a massive negative impact on Celtic’s chances of winning the game. However up until the 66th minute our probabilities of winning were 79%.

This dramatically changed to 32.8% after Barkas inexplicably let the ball through his fingers from a free kick that should have had no chance of scoring. Barkas was less to blame than Bitton as this was just down to capability rather than conduct but we need a new goalkeeper if we intend on having any chance of winning the league this season.

It was not a surprise then that FotMob had Bitton and Barkas as the lowest rated players at 5.33 and 5.78 respectively.

Bitton’s petulance also meant the end of Abada’s match (and competitive debut) which was disappointing. Abada had the best xA at 0.76 (despite playing only 45mins) and he had the best xG per 90 at 1.04. Abada was rated 2nd best Celtic player with 7.6.

Top rated player was Christie with a rating of 8.29 and most fans would agree that he had a really good game. What was pleasing to see was that there were many chances for him to shoot from long range (like last season) but he declined to do so being more measured in his approach and producing an xG of 0.84.

A lot of fans gave MotM to Welsh after the game and I can understand why. Despite some mistakes in there and the need for last ditch tackles there was something different about him. Something more assured/confident and the recklessness at times showed a good side of his character that we hadn’t seen before. At times he wasn’t messing about and it was good to see. Welsh had the most accurate passes at 65 and the best pass accuracy at 96%.

I couldn’t disagree with Christie’s top rating, fans MotM Welsh or even the sponsor’s MotM McGregor. However the player that pleased me the most was Dane Murray. I mentioned him on the Huddlebreakdown comments section last week as someone I had high hopes for despite only having limited time seeing him play. I also mentioned high hopes for Hjelde as well. Murray came on for Abada to play in Bitton’s position after 45 mins and what was interesting was that Murray played at left centre back.

In the previous 2 friendlies Welsh was moved over to Left Centre Back to accommodate Murray but now the pairing saw Welsh in his most comfortable position. I took that as a sign of confidence in Murray. Murray had the most accurate passes per 90 at 82. 17% of the team's accurate passes came from Bitton/Murray combined and that was the highest contribution from any position. He was also commanding in the air and he looks so composed on and off the ball. He was communicating to other players during the game telling them where to pass etc and for someone so young on their competitive debut I am just buzzing about this guy.

The team needs strengthened and not capitalising on domination (63% possession) was disappointing however watching the players take on board what Ange wants to do is pleasing. 2 key objectives in Ange’s teams will be goals from wide forwards and a higher xG per shot and we delivered on both. xG per shot at 0.124 would have been in our top 10 for last season. Not bad for an inexperienced team (still to be strengthened) and down to 10 men. An xGA of 0.12 would have been our lowest of the season last season.

I was pessimistic before the game saying that bookmakers had underpriced Celtic (and through 2 big errors I was proven correct) however after Tuesday nights game I now think Celtic are overpriced for the return leg in Denmark on Wednesday.

The probabilities for Wednesday are now 30.7% for a Celtic win and I think a Celtic win is a little more likelier than that.

Celtic Trends 🍀📈⚽️

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