Celtic’s hopes of qualifying for the next round of the Champions League are as good as over following their 6-0 away defeat at the hands of Atletico Madrid. It was always going to be a very difficult game and a loss was perhaps expected. But the magnitude of it is certainly unacceptable in the eyes of most fans.
Last season, Celtic lost 5-1 to Real Madrid. That was a heavy defeat as well but viewed by most as part of the learning curve. Since then, it looks like the Hoops have gotten worse.
All the positivity that was gained from the 2-2 draw against Atletico Madrid at Parkhead has completely vanished. It will take two brilliant performances and a massive slice of luck for them to not finish bottom of the group from here.
The most worrying thing is that the club do not seem to have made any progress since last season. On the contrary, it feels like they have taken several steps in the backward direction following the departure of Ange Postecoglou in the summer, days after winning the domestic treble.
Chris Sutton makes honest and worrying Celtic claim
Sutton has made a very honest and worrying assessment about this Celtic team. He wrote in his column in the Daily Record:
"Celtic knew the date of the first Champions League group matches in the second week of May when they won the title against Hearts at Tynecastle and guaranteed their place in them. That is four whole months. That Postecoglou team was building. They had their experiences of the first campaign and those that were staying could use them.Those who were leaving needed to be replaced properly and strengthening was also needed because, having finished the campaign with two points last term, it was clear that even the side who ended that term required more furnishing. Instead, Celtic went backwards."
Not many would argue with that assessment. It certainly looks like a Celtic team that has gone backwards since last season’s Champions League campaign.
Fans were unimpressed when the club stuck to signing highly-rated young talents over the summer instead of adding some much-needed experience to the squad. The fear was that most of them would not be ready to perform at the Champions League level or even break into the starting XI anytime soon. That is exactly what has happened. Hopefully, lessons will be learned from this and the transfer strategy will be tweaked moving forward.