Martin Greig in the Daily Mail this morning wonders whether 16-18 year old boys’ football should be about winning and states that the level of exposure some of the teenagers receive is likely to concern plenty of coaches.
If you don’t mind Martin, what a crock. We are playing in this tournament to get matches for these kids as the rest of Scottish Football scrapped the reserve league. Winning!! Surely life is about winning, and losing. A winning mentally in sport might have stopped us getting to where we are today.
Celtic FC v FC Barcelona
Campabadal 17′, Gabarron 37′, Dongou 47′
Referee: S McLean
It was a night for youth at Celtic Park and not just on the pitch. The stands were filled with a much younger demographic that one would normally see on match day and it made for an enjoyable, if slightly high pitched, atmosphere.
Most of the crowd turned up through curiosity rather than in expectation of a Celtic victory and nobody was all that surprised when Barcelona’s opened their account in the NextGen tournament with a 3-1 win over our U19 squad.
It’s hard to estimate how many attended for definite but with the main stand pretty full it wouldn’t be unreasonable to guess at about a crowd of 6000 and a £5 a head it worked out to be a bit of smart business by the club to put the match against the next generation of the La Masia on at Celtic Park.
With our bhoys lining up in a 4-4-2 and the Spanish side adopting the 4-3-3 Barcelona blueprint the game started brightly but it’s fair to say that the away side had the edge in the opening stages. Celtic had chances but it was the patient play of Barcelona that produced the first goal. Although it has to be said that it was a wee bit on the jammy side.
Campabadal raced down the park and received a cracking pass from the superb Dongou (a player we had already told you to keep an eye on.) He hammered into the box and with no team-mate to pass to he chanced his arm from a tight angle. Unfortunately for our Aussie keeper Nicholas Feely the ball came off his left hand and into the back of the net
Our bhoys didn’t let their heads go down and Tony Watt, our signing from Airdrie last season, worked like a Trojan to get us back in to the game. He was well due his superb individual effort on the 23rd minute. He picked the ball up in the centre circle and made his way towards goal. The way he zigzagged his way through the Barcelona team was simply terrific and he struck a cracker of a shot which found the bottom corner of Miguel Anton’s net from just outside the area.
From here on Celtic enjoyed their best spell in the game and the bhoys really looked the part. It was great to see youth set up matching one of the best in Europe. In fact we came close to going 2-1 up just before the break, with Watt again looking like the stand-out player in the side. A cross from the left brought a great save out of the keeper which prevented strike partner Paul George from making contact with his attempted overhead kick.
And is all too often the way in European nights, the opposition ran up the park and fired a shot into the back of the net just prior to the half time whistle.
Any hope of us making a comeback was was shot down in flames two minutes into the second half when Dongou hit a screamer past Feely into the top corner and this was pretty much the end of our challenge.
Barcelona then started to knock the ball about in a manner similar to their senior side and they could have added to their lead, with Cornejo twice going close to extending the Barcelona advantage.
Despite the defeat it was an enjoyable evening for all concerned. The opportunity to see some of the stars of the future for a fiver was well worth it and I’ll be looking forward to the next match against Manchester City. Players who caught the eye included Watt, George, Murrell-Williamson and Toshney. For Barcelona I’d imagine we’ll be hearing a lot about Donguo in future and their number 8 (whose name I don’t know) looked very decent indeed. It was also interesting to do a wee bit of celeb spotting with John Collins and Paul Lambert both in attendance.
Celtic: N Feely – M Fraser, J Chalmers, C Jones, L Toshney – R Murrell-Williamson (J Alabi, 84′ ), J Irvine, F Twardzik, J Herron (L Gormley, 88′) – A Watt (B Atajic, 70′), P George.
Subs not used: R Thomson, D Fisher, M Miller, P McNally.
Manager: T McIntyre
Barcelona: M B Anton – S Ayala, B Olivan, H Bagnack, E C Claros – P Gabarron, P Calvet (J Quintilla, 62′), S Samper – E Cornejo, J M Dongou (A Moreno, 90′), M A Sainz-Maza (C Herrera, 70′)
Subs not used: C Julio, S Tigenda, V Bakoyock, F Quesada.
Manager: O Garcia
The full time scores, and scorers, for the other games tonight were:
Tottenham Hotspur 7 (Gomelt 3, Coulibaly 2, Pritchard 2) vs. Inter Milan 1 (Bessa)
FC Basel 1 (Nafiu) vs. PSV Eindhoven 0
Sporting CP 2 (Coelho, Chaby) vs. Vfl Wolfsburg – 1 (Arnold)