Pat Bonner: ‘Celtic’s Champions League defeat to Barcelona could have been a lot worse’

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CLUB legend Pat Bonner insists he feared Celtic could have lost by ‘a lot more’ than seven goals in the Nou Camp as he watched his old side fail to lay a glove on Barcelona.

Bonner was in the Catalan capital as a pundit for the Hoops’ Champions League opener and has questioned whether Brendan Rodgers’ tactics of playing a three-man central defence were right.

However, he feels the inability of Celtic’s midfield to even make a challenge to break up Barca’s domination of possession was the most stunning observation on a humbling night for the Scottish champions.

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He said: “The way that Barcelona played was fantastic. We were sitting right up at the very top of the stadium and it looks so easy when you’re looking down.

“But when you’re on that pitch – and I’ve been there – and there’s people running all over the place and running in between the lines and passing the ball, it’s very, very difficult.

“The one thing I would say, looking at it, especially in that second-half, the Celtic players weren’t able to get near the Barcelona players to put tackles in.

“I think Scott Brown put in one or two in the game, but surely you’ve got to get in there and stop them somehow from delivering those balls.

“You either stop the delivery or you match the runs, but they did neither.

“That was probably the biggest shock, because they could have scored a lot more than just seven.”

Celtic’s hammering, their worst ever in Europe, has been branded ’embarrassing’ but Bonner agrees more with captain Scott Brown’s observation that it was ‘unacceptable’.

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The former Republic of Ireland keeper insisted: “I don’t think embarrassment is the right word when you’ve got so many players making their Champions League debut (in the group stages) and against a team like Barcelona, with such fantastic players playing at the top of their game.

“I think not acceptable could be a decent phrase that Scott Brown used, because he’s also looking at his team and asking ‘what could we have done better?’.”

Meanwhile, Bonner insists Dorus de Vries could have coped better with Neymar’s 50th-minute free-kick that gave Barcelona a 3-0 lead.

However, he has absolved the Dutchman of any further blame for the other six goals – even if he has joked the deposed Craig Gordon may be claiming otherwise.

“That’s a question,” added the 56-year-old when asked on BBC Scotland whether Gordon could have done better.

“But once (Brendan Rodgers) has made his change with de Vries coming in I didn’t think he was ever going to change it and go back to Craig at this point in time.

“Craig’s six feet five and maybe he could have got to that free-kick, but most of the goals I don’t think the goalkeeper had any chance, whatsoever.

“Maybe the free-kick would be the one you would question.

“But Craig might be standing up saying ‘I would have saved five of them’!”

@IainCollin

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