RB Leipzig 3-1 Celtic: Ange Postecoglou wants more from the callow side

Joe Hart was at fault for RB Leipzig’s crucial second goal

If anyone thought the start of Celtic’s Champions League group stage would cause Ange Postecoglou to rethink his approach, they were wrong.

A 3-1 defeat by RB Leipzig left Celtic bottom of Group F with just one point, despite three performances that have shown the Scottish champions can impress Europe’s elite.

But therein lies the problem. Celtic have not been able to suffocate their opponents in the way they do at home, which is only natural given the tremendous rise in the class of the opposition.

“It’s a lot of experience at this level,” Postecoglou said afterwards. “Believing that they are boys, believing that boys can achieve at this level.”

Eight of Leipzig’s starting 11 had never played in the Champions League group stage before this season, while Jota featured briefly as a substitute for Benfica.

He has shown that composure in three games so far, where Postecoglou’s high-intensity style has caused problems at Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk and Leipzig, but ultimately lacked a killer edge and made mistakes at key moments.

Against Leipzig, it was a mistake by Celtic’s most experienced player Joe Hart – who passed straight to Dominik Szoboszlai to score the German side’s crucial second goal – that turned the game around.

But Posteocglou believes his team’s overall approach was more to blame after Jota’s equaliser. The Australian was more concerned that his team was losing its attacking mentality.

“A mistake is a mistake,” Postecoglou said.

“It’s not about that. It’s about what happened before. We kept coming back to him for no reason. You’re doing what you think is safe but that’s not really us.

“Once we got the level we almost wanted to settle for it. I could see it coming. If Joe didn’t make a mistake, it was going to be somebody else.”

Opt for chalk
Celtic, left, created and wasted several chances despite the lead

“If you play for survival, that’s all you’ll get”

It’s clear the Celtic boss wants even more courage from his squad. To enter more firmly on the front foot. The question is whether he can perform in time to take some scalps in the second half of this group stage. Or given the gap in resources.

Other clubs have shown over many seasons that it takes time to adapt to the Champions League.

Club Brugge, who have won all three games so far, have suffered a crushing defeat in the last three seasons finishing in the bottom two of their group.

AC Milan played well in their section last season after nearly a decade out of the competition, but finished bottom with a young squad. Richer sides than Celtic have taken time to adapt.

In that sense, Postecoglou’s main task is to keep Celtic at this level so that they can make those improvements over time.

And according to the Australians, improving at this level means not backing down from more famous opponents.

“We have to have a stronger belief and mentality to get over that hump of being on the good side and getting results, but that’s not easy, it comes with experience,” he said.

“We have to be really positive with our mindset and the way we play our football. If we do that, we’ll give ourselves a better chance.

“If you play to survive, that’s all you’re going to get, you’re not going to get anywhere.”

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