Ange Postecoglou has challenged his Celtic players to mark their identity when they meet Real Madrid.
Postecoglou is ready to unleash his intensive attacking style against the Champions League holders at Celtic Park on Tuesday and see how far it can take his side. He still encourages his full-backs to attack, has two central attacking midfielders in front of the creative Callum McGregor and two wingers supporting his centre-forward. He is not about to change for the visit from Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
“There’s no point in playing football a certain way,” he said. “But when you have the opportunity to measure it against the best, you walk away from it and you’re like, ‘You know what, let’s just try to limit any kind of damage.'” It’s not really a test because that you don’t know. You could go out there and do some damage control and you could get a win playing a different way, but have you really tested yourself? I don’t think you have it.
“When I say test us, that’s what I mean, we’re going there being the football team we’ve been so far. Then you have a real measure of where we are. so.
“If we run out of where we need to be, then we come back, dust it off and get a little closer next time.
“I’ve always taken these games as an opportunity to really imprint your own identity on a game and see where it takes you.”
Postecoglou believes such certainty will help his players. “That’s why we’ve been so consistent,” said the former Australia head coach. “The players have a clear understanding of what we have to do every week, regardless of the opponent.
“And there are certainly different approaches you can take. There are a million ways to succeed in a football game. If we changed tactics every week and were successful, players would expect that on Tuesday night.
“But they understand what their roles are in the team, how we’re going to play. We do it every week, and we do it for a reason, because we want to win games and be successful.
“If I walked in there and said we were going to change our approach, it’s not just Tuesday night that we’ll miss an opportunity, but later on the track there will be doubts in their minds as to why. why we actually do it.
“The reason we play this football is to win, that’s all, there is no other reason for it. I like it to be exciting, I like our supporters to like it, I think it’s important, but if it wasn’t successful, I wouldn’t do it.
Postecoglou believes that the benefits of moving forward with its philosophy outweigh the risks. “If there’s a system that doesn’t put you at risk, I’d love to hear it,” he said. “But it doesn’t exist. Any system you play has inherent risk, but sometimes the greater the risk, the greater the opportunity.
“We try to do things a little differently. We don’t want to be like all the other teams. With this, there is always the possibility of you tripping. It’s good, I’ve stumbled in the past. The important thing is to dust yourself off and move on.
Celtic’s 29-2 goal difference in seven matches this season has given fans hope for an upset. They recorded a record 9-0 away win over Dundee United and followed that up with a 4-0 thrashing of Rangers in their last Premiership encounter.
Postecoglou was keen not to ‘burst people’s bubbles’ as Celtic prepare for their first Champions League group game in five years. “I’m glad our supporters are talking about it,” he said. “That’s what we love about the game. Of course my job is to stay even-tempered, so in terms of my expectations and what I communicate to the players as a group, that’s what we we have to do to continue to progress. That’s another story.
“But I want our supporters to dream of big games, big wins and winning things. This is our role as a football club. I’m sure they are tired of their bubble bursting in their normal day to day life.
“There’s no need for me to tell them not to come here too excited because it might not go well. I don’t think that’s my role. My role is to make sure they come bouncing back and I hope we send them bouncing back.
Ange Postecoglou wants Celtic to test against Real Madrid