Celtic must heed French warning

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Martin O'Neill has always been a studious person. He had the opportunity to take a law degree until Nottingham Forest intervened, so there is no doubt that the Celtic manager will have gone to school on the events of the last 48 hours in Glasgow. O'Neill, more than anyone, is likely to have heeded the French lesson inflicted by Monaco on Rangers and seek to avoid a similar fate for his own side when they meet Bordeaux at Parkhead this evening in the Uefa Cup second round second leg.

Martin O'Neill has always been a studious person. He had the opportunity to take a law degree until Nottingham Forest intervened, so there is no doubt that the Celtic manager will have gone to school on the events of the last 48 hours in Glasgow. O'Neill, more than anyone, is likely to have heeded the French lesson inflicted by Monaco on Rangers and seek to avoid a similar fate for his own side when they meet Bordeaux at Parkhead this evening in the Uefa Cup second round second leg.

While he was buoyant at the 1-1 draw achieved by Celtic in France a fortnight ago, he is also aware of the British flaw of believing that the job is done and all that remains is to turn up and collect the rewards.

Within minutes of coming off the Stade Lescure pitch after the first game, O'Neill was saying that the home leg would be more dangerous. The French mastery of the counter-attack was clear for all to see in Marco Simone's goal for Monaco against Rangers on Tuesday, and the same 2-2 scoreline as their Old Firm rivals would see Celtic exit the tournament.

That is why O'Neill is fearful over the loss of Paul Lambert - the defensive midfielder having been ruled out for several months with a stress fracture of his ankle - as he tries to guide Celtic to the third round of a European competition for the first time in 17 years. "Losing Lambert is a really big blow for us," O'Neill said. "He has had a fantastic season so far and his holding role in midfield is greatly appreciated by me and the players.

"Paul has a great appetite for sitting deep and has put in great work. The way he performs on the pitch is nothing short of inspiring. He will be a big loss to us and I will need to think carefully about how I will organise the team in his absence. We know Bordeaux are a quality team and in Christophe Dugarry they have a world-class player. The most important thing is that we don't concede a goal."

The Republic of Ireland Under-21 midfielder Colin Healy could deputise for Lambert while Alan Thompson, having already appeared for Aston Villa in the tournament, is ineligible, which should mean Lubomir Moravcik's return.

Celtic (probable 3-5-2): Gould; Mjallby, Boyd, Valgaeren; McNamara, Healy, Moravcik, Petrov, Petta; Sutton, Larsson.

Comments