Celtic began their Europa League Group Stage journey when they travelled to Brittany, France where they achieved a 1-1 draw against Rennes.
Rennes were the heavily favored side over Celtic in this tie, and the squad looked the part for much of the match. However, neither side were able to make any headway until Kristoffer Ajer made a reckless challenge in the box that allowed Rennes to get on the board. While the call was a solid one by the referees, that is where the good officiating stopped.
During Thursday’s match Celtic learned just what they have in new summer signings Hatem Abd Elhamed and Christopher Jullien. Furthermore, Celtic finally played a great away match aside from the… referees.
Jullien and Elhamed Have Been a Revelation
Celtic’s defence, and back line in particular, have been the subject of question for much of the offseason. Those concerns were only heightened with the departure of Kieran Tierney. Jullien and Elhamed were signed and brought into the club to help alleviate some of the pressure from the absence of the star left back.
After slow starts for both players, both defenders have really found their groove, and built chemistry with the rest of the defence. Jullien and Elhamed have become invaluable members of the defence, and are more than earning their paychecks. Their skill was highlighted on Thursday when they held Rennes to zero goals (aside from a penalty) when Rennes’ offence was favored to destroy Celtic’s defense. Both of these players may be the key to advancing through European competition.