Celtic versus Juventus might look very imbalanced before the Champions League last-16 clash begins, but it’s not as simple as that.
Celtic are a paradox – they are more than the sum of their parts and they have something special.
If you look at Celtic against Barcelona, for example: In the first match in Spain they had something like 11% of the possession and they almost won the match. In the return they had around 18% and they did win the game.
When a team can endure everything a side like Barcelona can throw at them and still win, what can make them afraid?
It proves Celtic's mental strength, and the quality of their organisation is very high.
Of course Juventus go into the match-up as favourite. But then again Barcelona was the extra-super-favourite. If Celtic do not panic in defence, they can be competitive.
That is not to say Juventus are not mentally strong. They are physically strong as well – I would expect them to play with three defensive-midfield players and that will make them tough to break down. They are also strong in the air.
In Tuesday’s other match, there might also be an appearance of imbalance between Paris Saint-Germain and Valencia, if not in experience, then on the depth of the respective sides.
I’ve been putting out teams in the Champions League for many years, and I have never had an easy game in Valencia.
Their teams always feature great players, highly-motivated, and they have an intelligent mindset in the way they approach games. It makes them so hard to dispossess them and play on your own terms.
Their stadium, the Mestalla, is also something else, creating a special atmosphere for them and their opponents.
I guess maybe that tie is really less imbalanced than it first appears.
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