The keys to success for Celtic against Atlético Madrid

Celtic’s last Champions League endeavour was an encouraging display at home to Atlético Madrid, one that Callum McGregor confirmed to be the “strongest performance” of the group stage campaign so far when speaking to A Celtic State of Mind post-match.

There were plenty of positives to take from that encounter, and it was a game that showed that, when Celtic are at the top of their game, they can compete with some of the top sides in Europe, something that fans have doubted over the last few years given the club’s form in European competitions.

The trip to the Wanda Metropolitano was originally deemed to be a free hit by the Celtic support when the group stage draw was revealed, but after the way the team went toe-to-toe with Atleti at Celtic Park, there is a bit more hope from supporters heading into this one.

Here are some keys to success that Celtic will need to carry over from the draw in Paradise:

Maintaining a strong mentality

One of the standout aspects of Celtic’s performance was the never-say-die attitude demonstrated on the park. Time and time again in European competitions the Celtic team’s mentality has been incredibly fragile, with a single shred of opposition resistance being enough for the team to completely crumble, but the home game against Atleti was different.

Many fans expected the inevitable collapse from Celtic when Antoine Griezmann tapped in the rebound following Joe Hart’s penalty save, but to the surprise of many, Celtic went back on the front-foot and back in search of another goal, which they eventually got through Luis Palma’s well-taken strike. The team trusted their abilities, and it benefited them greatly.

Defensively, the team showed a lot of composure and organisation when defending their box from wave after wave of Atleti attack in the second-half, and Celtic will need to have a similarly strong mental fortitude for tonight’s test.

Take your chances

Another positive from that performance was the fact that Celtic took their chances. When you think of a typical ‘Celtic in Europe’ performance, one or two massive chances missed that you rue over at full-time are usually inevitable every time the Hoops line up for a European contest, but there wasn’t any of that two weeks ago.

The team was clinical in the final third, taking the clear-cut chances well, and similar composure in the final third will be required in Madrid where chances will prove to be at even more of a premium than they were at Parkhead.

Try your luck from range

The key to success in recent fixtures for Celtic against teams that are well set up and hard to break down has been that there has been players in the team willing to gamble from range.

St Mirren and Ross County, albeit miles off the quality that Atleti will bring to the table tomorrow night, were rigid defensively and well organised, and Celtic beat them through some high-quality goals from distance courtesy of Luis Palma and David Turnbull.

Atlético Madrid are renowned for being a strong defensive team, especially in Europe, so allowing Turnbull or Palma to try their luck from distance could provide the slice of luck that Celtic need to grab something tonight.


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