The month of August was a big one for Celtic, as it saw the start of the Scottish Premiership and the Champions League playoffs – a must win tie to qualify for the Group Stages
Celtic’s first game of the Premiership season was at home to Kilmarnock. They then travelled to play Ross County, before arriving back at Celtic Park to pit themselves against Dundee United. The two legs of the Champions League Playoffs against AS Trencin sandwiched a home game against St. Johnstone, before the Bhoys travelled to Motherwell to round off a busy month for the Glaswegians.
Ronny Deila’s men started the season well, getting a win at home against Kilmarnock. Celtic were the better side throughout the game, controlling possession and mounting a large assault on Kilmarnock’s goal, having 32 shots and 15 being on target. Celtic’s task was made harder by the sending off of captain Charlie Mulgrew, who was dismissed five minutes before the break for a second yellow. It wasn’t until the middle of the second half that Celtic managed to get in front, with substitute Leigh Griffiths putting the ball into the back of the net. However, Celtic’s lead only lasted two minutes, when some awful defending allowed Dale Carrick to equalise. It looked like Celtic’s first game of the season was to end in a draw, when Griffiths popped up again to give Celtic all three points. Deila will have been pleased with the result and the way Celtic managed to get all three points – but not being clinical enough was once again at the forefront of the Norwegian’s mind.
Celtic threatened from kickoff, and it only took four minutes before the Bhoys put the ball into the back of the net through Dimitar Berbatov, netting his first Premiership goal of the season. Surprise signing Lorenzo Insigne was next to find the back of the net on his first start for the club, scoring a freekick that silenced the opposition fans. It wasn’t until the second half that Celtic found the net again, with substitute Stefan Scepovic scoring two goals in quick succession on his first appearance for the club. Liam Boyce then pulled two back for County in the space of four minutes, before substitute Nir Biton made it five late on. Another very good performance for the Bhoys, and the lack of being clinical completely wiped from Deila’s mind.
Celtic’s third game of the season saw themselves play fellow title hopefuls Dundee United at Celtic Park. Dundee needed to make a statement, with their start of the season anything but spectacular, but within three minutes they found themselves a goal behind, with Pione Sisto getting on the score-sheet. Former Dundee man Stuart Armstrong then rounded off a great team move fourteen minutes in with a great header. Charlie Mulgrew then netted just before the half hour mark to make it three. Five minutes later saw Pione Sisto grab his second, before Griffiths completed the rout just before half time. The second half was also just as exciting, with Paul Paton being sent off and Stuart Armstrong suffering a serious injury – which is going to keep him out three months. Deila will be ecstatic with the performance, but Armstrong’s injury casts a dark shadow over the game.
Champions League Champions Playoff – First Leg
Celtic fielded a weaker side in the first leg against AS Trencin, and required their stars to emerge from the substitutes to grab them the win to bring back to Glasgow. The Bhoys controlled possession, but couldn’t use it to full effect to create chances – with Tom Rogic and Kris Commons looking particularly uninspiring. Celtic required Lorenzo Insigne to come on from the bench, and he grabbed the goal to give Celtic the lead. However, Brazilian Jairo then equalised. Sisto – the only player to start out of Deila’s summer signings – popped up with a late goal to give Celtic the lead going into the second leg.
Celtic’s next game in the month of August was a home game against St. Johnstone. Celtic started brightly, with the first attack ending in a spot kick for the Bhoys, which Leigh Griffiths steps up confidently to score. Lorenzo Insigne then makes it two sixteen minutes in. Dimitar Berbatov then gets a late brace, scoring in 89th and 90th minutes respectively to make Celtic’s victory look ever-so-more convincing. It’s all coming together for Ronny Deila’s men now, with the defence looking strong and the strikers scoring regularly.
Champions League Champions Playoff – Second Leg
Celtic came into the second leg with a 2-1 lead over the Slovakian side, and needed a comfortable win to secure their place in the Group Stages. It took, though, until deep into the first half for Celtic to make the breakthrough from a tight angle. Griffiths added the second, meeting Sisto’s cross on the half volley. Sisto got his first of the two after Nir Biton played him through, and the Danish international slotted home confidently. Sisto got his second after his shot found its way through the keepers hands and legs to secure the clubs place in the Group Stages.
Celtic’s last match of August saw the Bhoys travel to Motherwell. It took twenty-four minutes and a lot of possession for Celtic to break the deadlock through new signing Lorenzo Insigne, who has made a blistering start in Glasgow. Four minutes later saw Dimitar Berbatov find the back of the net, his first goal since the brace against St. Johnstone. Stefan Johansen rounded off the win ten minutes later with his first goal of the season. Ronny Deila would have been pleased with the way Celtic kept and used the ball, having 61% possession and 21 shots.
After 5 games, the Bhoys find themselves in first place and three points clear, having not lost a game and only conceded 3, whilst scoring 19, leaving them with a goal difference of +16.
Player Of The Month
This month’s POTM is new signing Lorenzo Insigne. He has played a total of 7 times - twice as a substitute - and scored 5 times, and assisted 4 times – and getting an average rating of 8.09. Pione Sisto was next in line, with Stefan Johansen rounding off the top 3.
Next Month: September
Celtic will find out their group stage fate in the coming days, and their assault to qualify for the Round of 16 will start during the month. They start September bt travelling to Inverness and Aberdeen, before playing Cowdenbeath in the League Cup 3rd round. They then round off the month with a game against Partick Thistle at Celtic Park.
Note, I made a massive muck up, and the Insigne injury update isn’t meant to be posted yet – that’s why he features in a lot of these games and it POTM. I’ll write on thing when that update was meant to be posted!