Celtic’s rather horrendous European run is finally over as Ange Postecoglou’s side were thrashed and ruthlessly tossed aside by one of the game’s elite on Wednesday evening.
The Hoops travelled to the Spanish capital to face 14-time winners of the Champions League, Real Madrid, and the result was rather as expected.
They lost 5-1 in a bizarre game that saw three penalties given, two to the hosts and one for the visitors. Clearly vulnerable at the back, Celtic once again struggled in an attacking capacity too with Kyogo Furuhashi rather anonymous up top as his ability to finish chances was questioned again.
The Bhoys didn’t exactly help themselves though, with Josip Juranovic missing from the spot at the beginning of the second half.
It was a wonderful opportunity for Postecoglou’s men to get back in the tie but the Croat’s penalty kick was at a nice height for Thibaut Courtois to save.
That moment wasn’t Juranovic’s finest in Celtic colours but there were plenty of other faces on the team who struggled just as much. One of them happened to be Aaron Mooy who looked wildly out of his depth in the middle of the park.
It was the Aussie’s very first start in the Champions League and it wouldn’t be a surprise if it was his last. Slated for what was a “tragic” touch in the first half by the Celtic Bhoys, the Athletic’s Owen Brown suggested it was a “perplexing” decision by the manager to even select him in the first place.
That analysis is spot on, as Celtic’s central areas were completely outsmarted and given the run-around by Real.
Mooy played his part in that with the 32-year-old struggling significantly. He lost the ball eight times from his 45 touches of the ball and failed to win a single ground duel all night. Considering just how much possession Madrid had in the game (65%), it meant the Australia international was completely ineffective.
From an attacking point of view, the former Huddersfield man was a mere spectator, failing to supply a key pass or have a shot during his 63 minutes on the field.
It was a performance that could have big ramifications for Mooy. With David Turnbull and Oliver Abildgaard breathing over his shoulder, he may not keep his place in the side.
It’s also a disappointing sighter of how he could fare at this month’s World Cup. Usually a regular for the Socceroos, he might struggle in matches where his team doesn’t see much of the ball. One of the teams in Australia’s group is France and if he performs how he did tonight, his nation won’t stand much of a chance in that particular encounter.
Of course, the World Cup has a tendency to cause an upset but Mooy’s performance at the Bernabeu last night shouldn’t just be a warning sign to Postecoglou, it should be one for Graham Arnold too, his manager at international level.
In the harshest words possible, it was a rather ‘tragic’ night for the experienced midfielder.