Coulda - woulda - shoulda...didn't...Another heart-breaking night in Paradise. I presume you've seen the game; if you haven't, don't bother. Over the weekend, I was up in Lake Tahoe, where I completed the Emerald Bay half-marathon - in my Hoops. A good omen, I thought. I awoke this morning thinking Messi the Messiah is injured. Hallelujah! The drive down to the pub was a series of green lights - no yellows or reds. Another great sign. After being kicked out of the League Cup last week - to Morton - with a whimper, I knew the players would bring it for Barcelona and be firing on all cylinders. I always think if the wee teams we played wore Barca, Milan or Man U jerseys, we would win every game! Anyway, this morning, I had faith. Celtic Park on European nights is something that everyone should experience; the fans become the 12th man - or tonight, filling in for the 11th. The atmosphere is electrifying, the wall of noise is deafening, all the passion from the stands pours down onto the pitch and you feel united in a singular cause - to elevate mortals into super heroes. This post-mortem will be relatively brief; I'm too annoyed, frustrated, and saddened, to make a huge meal of it. Pre-game, in the pub, the atmosphere was tense, but hopeful - we beat them last year and Messi is out. They started strongly; we contained their threats. Again, like the Milan game, each minute that passed with a scoreless draw, we, the watchers, became more encouraged. Barcelona had more possession, shots etc, but did not appear that threatening. I was not worried and started to believe that we would win. Celtic showed them respect, but no fear. Samaras looked like he was having a great day; when he's on, that means goals. We had players flying down the wings but no one to finish any of them off! Our lack of clinical strikes in the box is scary. In earlier days, the era of Larsson, Hartson, Sutton, Moravcik, Thompson et al - we'd players, from all positions, who were capable of scoring, and did. Not so much now. I felt like I was watching a game of hot potato - all the Celtic players could not wait to get rid of the ball - teamwork, people! We need a Jimmy Johnstone type winger, who'll dance his way up the park, evading all attacks, or a Peyton Manning type quarter back, who goes for it and never stops until the ball is where it needs to be. Neymar - the wee chancer - deserved all the booing - talk about a drama queen - put a blonde wig and a nice satin frock on him and he'd be starring in his own stage show. That boy needs to grow a pair. And I'm not talking up top. Lennon looked like he wanted to throw on some boots and get stuck in. I wish he had. In the first half, neither side had any clear cut chances. 0-0 at half-time; optimism lived on. As the second half got under way, the stadium was rocked by thousands of fans, scarves aloft, singing ' You''ll never walk alone' - a sight I never get bored of. Check out u-tube for the Petrov charity match version; you'll have tears in your eyes. Anyway, as the game progressed, there were many Barca players doing tryouts for their local amateur dramatic society and I began to believe that the referee was their official cheer leader - he was waving yellow cards around as if they were pom poms! The game was scrappy, poor flow, poor chances, stupid choices. And, Scott Brown, I am talking to you - you're the bloody captain and supposed to set an example, not lose your heid. Yes, you got reverse punched in the chest, but that was no reason to try to stick the boot in - although, from the side angle - you missed and kicked air under his elbow. At ten men, the remaining players were valiant, especially Forster, who made some amazing saves, and is my man of the match. We missed some absolute sitters - the Mulgrew one was painful to see - but at this level, all chances must be taken with ruthless precision, which we were unable to do. Their Fabregas goal, in the 76 minute, was made too easy; we had no coverage in the box. It was a nice goal, taken well, but should have been contained. Despite a plethora of subs, and four added minutes, we could not score. We've no one to blame but ourselves. Why do we always have to sabotage ourselves so often? This is the story of us in Europe; coulda, woulda, shoulda - didn't. Then, as the death throes were happening at home, the news flashed up that Milan and Ajax drew 1-1. That would put us bottom of the table. I am gutted. And will be in a bad mood for several days. Being a Celtic fan is very trying on one's patience and health. Big Sigh...oh, well...there's always next time; walk on with hope in your heart and you'll never walk alone...
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Raised in Scotland, now living in Los Angeles - galaxies apart! I love traveling, writing, photography, and meeting new people; my curiosity and imagination are boundless. In training for Honolulu Marathon as a reaction to the Boston bombings.
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