A question to Ange Postecoglou over whether Celtic will adapt their tactical approach when Real Madrid visit Glasgow on Tuesday night drew a smile. “Aha, my plan A,” said the Australian. Postecoglou – who believes his style would receive more praise were he Spanish, Dutch or German – is aware of what his detractors claim. That is, he has just one – attacking – way of playing.
Postecoglou has earned the right to deploy a Celtic side in any manner he likes. Saturday’s 4-0 thumping of Rangers endorsed all that is good about the Scottish champions under the 57-year-old. There will be no cowering as the Champions League campaign begins in high-profile fashion.
“I don’t think we’ll change,” said David Turnbull, who notched the fourth goal of the Old Firm clash. “We’ll go in full of confidence and try to play our own game. Whether it works or it doesn’t, we will still play that way. Hopefully, it does work.
“We don’t want to sit back against any team. We want to go out there and play our football whether it is Real Madrid or whether it was Ross County last week. It’s about going into each game the same. The manager has drilled into us from day one the way he wants to play and that won’t change for anybody.”
Postecoglou and Turnbull sing from the same hymn sheet. “We just see it as an opportunity to measure up against the best,” said Postecoglou of the Madrid challenge. “I’ve always felt the way to do that is by being yourself. We have to bring our own identity. People are pretty clear on what type of team we are.”
How Celtic will fare in a group that also includes RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk will prove fascinating. Saturday’s rout illustrated Postecoglou’s team are the best in Scotland but this is the ex-Yokohama Marinos coach’s first crack at the Champions League. Postecoglou believes Celtic have not had due credit for their domestic performances this season to date. Should they defeat the reigning European champions, who have not faced Celtic since 1980, the continent would take notice.
“Everyone is full of confidence,” added Turnbull. “Since the start of the season, we have all been brilliant. We have a very big squad and everyone is pushing for places. I think it’s just the style of play we are playing, it is putting teams under pressure and they can’t cope with it. It’s great for all the attacking players to get the freedom in the final third with the way we attack, it is quick and fast-flowing football and it’s great to play in.”