It was a tough pre-season match for Celtic, when they faced off against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. The Hoops could only manage a 2-2 draw, with Jota and David Turnbull getting their names on the scoresheet. But it helped some of the newer players learn what they would be up against when the campaign begins.
It was often said back in the Martin O’Neill days that Celtic don’t play friendlies. They brought a tough competitive edge to every game they played. That approach looks to be back under Ange Postecoglou and will be welcomed by many of the club’s fans. It does mean though that we can’t complain too much when the opposition get a bit feisty.
The game between Celtic and Blackburn Rovers did not feel like a relaxed pre-season friendly at all with half a dozen players booked in total. The two bookings for the Hoops were Mikey Johnston and James McCarthy, both in the second half.
Midfielder Matt O’Riley is still in his first year at Celtic, having arrived in January from MK Dons, and this is his first pre-season with the Hoops. And he was perhaps a bit surprised at the physicality of the game against Blackburn Rovers, although recognising that it was good for practice. As reported by Football Scotland, he said:
"“Blackburn were feisty and a bit nasty. They left a bit on a few of us. Tony Ralston’s boot was split in half, but it was competitive and that’s what we want.“We have to handle that because we’ll come up against teams in the Premiership who will kick us to try and stop us.“But if we’re on it with our counter press and we’re crisp on the ball, the rest will take care of itself.”"
Celtic star makes Blackburn Rovers claim after friendly at Parkhead
At times, Celtic could only be stopped by some hard tackles, as the likes of Jota and Liel Abada glided past the Blackburn Rover players.
It’s good though to see O’Riley accepting and recognising that there are tough games ahead and showing that he and the rest of the squad are prepared for that.
O’Riley would be expected to fill in the void left behind by Tom Rogic, who departed Parkhead at the end of last season. The Danish youth international was impressive last season but will have a lot more expectations riding on him this time around.