Pre-Season: Part One
Celtic faced nine games this preseason, including two Champions League qualifiers before the season started.
The preparation took them around Scotland to play teams such as Falkirk, Dunfermline and Fife, as well as Steaua Bucuresti amongst the visitors to Celtic Park.
The Bhoy’s pre-season got off to a stale start, as Romanian champions Steaua Bucuresti held them to a 0-0 draw at Celtic Park. It wasn’t the fact that Celtic played poorly – they controlled the game and boasted 65% possession – but a resilient Steaua defence that couldn’t be breached. Man of the Match Breeveld broke down many Celtic attacks, meaning that the Glaswegian side only managed one shot on target out of 15. Despite this, Deila can take much confidence from the performance, but the need to become more clinical was evident.
Mexican outfit FC Léon were next to visit Celtic Park, and they were powerless in defeat, crumbling to a 3-0 loss. New signings Pione Sisto and Dimitar Berbatov made their first starts for the club, and excited fans with the results of their link-up play providing fruitful. But it was Berbatov that stole the show, netting two very well taken goals to show why he was bought in by Deila. Griffiths then netted to round of an emphatic victory.
Celtic then started the tour round Scotland, with Championship side Falkirk first up. Celtic took control, but took to after the half time break to get them in front. But after Armstrong gave them the lead, Falkirk came into the game, and two goals in quick succession – two goals in two minutes to be precise – gave Falkirk complete control. It looked like Celtic might be heading to their first defeat of the season, when Man of the Match Stuart Armstrong netted to draw the game level late on. Deila will be pleased with the character his side showed to come back and grab the draw, but will be disappointed that they ended up in a losing position in the first place.
A trip to Airdrie to play Raith Rovers was next on the cards for Celtic, and this game was a huge disappointment for Deila and his men. The Hoops made plenty of chances that resulted in 23 shots in total – a mile ahead of Raith’s 3 – and two clear cut chances, but Berbatov and co couldn’t convert this into goals to give Celtic the win, providing a huge disappointment for the Bhoys/
After the disappointment of the Raith Rovers game, fellow Scottish Premiership side Dunfermline were standing in front of the Bhoys. Celtic started quickly, threatening and showing good signs for things to come. After Griffiths poor half time display, he was replaced at half time with Berbatov. Berbatov was in the mood and stole the show, netting a hattrick, showing the Celtic fans why he had been so successful at clubs with the stature of Manchester United. Deila must have been really pleased with the victory, and with the players returning to near full fitness, it was a sure sign of the season ahead.