Euro 2024: Brendan Rodgers draws optimism from Celtic’s progress in the Champions League as they prepare to face Atletico Madrid at the midway point. Despite sitting at the bottom of Group E with just one point, earned in a thrilling 2-2 draw with the Spaniards in Glasgow, Rodgers remains positive about the team’s development. Acknowledging the uphill battle, Rodgers acknowledges that the team has improved its performance over the course of three games.
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Although Celtic twice took the lead in their previous encounter, Atletico’s pressure in the second half required the team to showcase their adaptability. Rodgers emphasized the importance of maintaining a balance between aggressiveness and defensive stability, considering Atletico’s formidable prowess as former finalists. He highlighted the significance of sustaining the team’s confidence through consistent performances.
Despite the challenging fixture against Atletico, Celtic’s focus remains on securing a favorable result to carry into their upcoming matches against Lazio and Feyenoord. With midfielder Reo Hatate sidelined due to a hamstring injury, the team is set to rely on the return of Matt O’Riley, who was rested during the recent triumph against Ross County.
Notably, Celtic will have to navigate the match without the services of key players such as Stephen Welsh and Liel Abada, while Atletico faces the absence of Netherlands forward Memphis Depay, along with long-term casualties Samuel Lino and Thomas Lemar. Diego Simeone, the manager of Atletico Madrid, has emphasized the competitive nature of their group, acknowledging the impressive performances of Celtic against Feyenoord and Lazio.
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He stressed the importance of consistency in securing a spot in the last 16 of the tournament. Simeone expressed equal respect for both Atletico and Celtic, recognizing the challenge that the upcoming game. Recognizing Celtic’s strong start in matches and their aggressive pressing style, Simeone highlighted the need for Atletico to adapt and find ways to counter their opponent’s tactics. He emphasized the anticipation surrounding the game and the enthusiasm from both the fans and the team.
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Atletico aims to deliver an exceptional performance, seeking to rectify their previous encounter with Celtic. Following their draw at Celtic Park, Atletico achieved a 2-1 victory against Alaves, matching a club record of 14 consecutive home victories in La Liga. However, a surprise defeat against Las Palmas interrupted their winning streak, marking their second loss in 11 league matches this season. Alvaro Morata, who scored against Celtic, has netted a total of 10 goals for the club this season.
While Antoine Griezmann, also on the scoresheet against Celtic, has found the back of the net eight times in his last nine games for Atletico. In terms of match history, Atletico Madrid has remained undefeated in their seven European encounters with Celtic, securing four victories and three draws, including two wins out of three home games against the Bhoys, with one match ending in a draw.
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In their most recent encounter, Celtic faced their sixth consecutive defeat against Spanish teams in the UEFA Champions League, having last secured a 1-1 draw against Barcelona in November 2004. During this losing streak, they conceded a staggering 22 goals, with 18 of those goals conceded in just the last three matches.
The statistics underscore the frustration experienced by the Romanian team and their fans, as they were unable to translate their control of the game into a much-needed victory. The Euro Cup qualification journey remains a challenging one, and Romania will need to address their finishing issues to achieve their tournament aspirations. To read more about Spain defeating Scotland 2-0 qualifier for Euro 2024 Soccer Tournament Qualification.
Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid has displayed a strong start to their current Champions League campaign, avoiding defeat in their first three matches, a feat they last achieved in the 2019-20 season. Their previous unbeaten streak of four matches dates back to the 2016-17 season.
Despite their historical prowess, Celtic has struggled to keep clean sheets in their recent UEFA Champions League matches, with just one clean sheet in their last 34 games, a notable 3-0 victory against Anderlecht in September 2017. Since that victory, Celtic has faced a winless streak of 13 matches, including 10 losses, in the Euro 2024.
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On the other hand, Atletico Madrid has demonstrated a dominant performance on their home turf, remaining unbeaten in their last six home games in the Champions League, with their last home defeat occurring against Milan in November 2021. Their overall record at the Cívitas Metropolitano stadium stands at 11 wins, 9 draws, and 3 losses in 23 matches.
Interestingly, Celtic has recorded the lowest number of shots (25) and the lowest expected goals total (2.27) in the current Champions League season. In contrast, Atletico Madrid, despite having the joint-fifth lowest number of shots (31), boasts the highest shot conversion rate in the tournament, standing at an impressive 19.4%. Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid has demonstrated his goal-scoring prowess in the last two Champions League matches.
Although he has yet to score in three consecutive games in the competition, despite his overall tally of 32 goals in 88 appearances. Another key player for Atletico Madrid, Alvaro Morata, has recently found his scoring touch, netting three goals in his last two Champions League appearances, surpassing his previous tally of two goals in 16 matches. Notably, 18 of his last 20 Champions League goals have come during the group stages, including his last 11 goals.
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