In Focus: Dembele and Celtic can still make an impact in the Europa League

Speaking to the official Celtic website, Hoops striker Moussa Dembele has called on his side to show more character when going up against the top sides in European competition.

What’s the story?

After slipping to a 1-0 defeat at home to Anderlecht on Tuesday night, the optimism regarding Celtic’s ambitions in European competition has taken a blow, despite qualifying for the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League.

The Hoops have failed to convince at home in Europe over the last couple of seasons, which is a worry heading into a new competition where they can face one of sixteen seeds, including the likes of Arsenal and AC Milan.

Moussa Dembele thinks Celtic can compete though.

As quoted by the official Celtic website, the French striker said:

We just need character. When you play against a high-level opponent, you really need to make sure you want the ball every time and create chances, and when you do that, you have to score from them. That’s what we have to learn from it but I’m sure we have the quality for that. We did our best to try and do something and it didn’t happen but we have to stay focused and work hard for the Europa League.

Dembele appears to be suggesting here that the Hoops are being held back by their mental approach to the game, rather than their technical ability, which is something Brendan Rodgers has definitely spoken about before.

Learning lessons?

The worry for Celtic fans is that for all the talk of learning from the Hoops camp, it’s not apparent when they take to the pitch with timid, passive displays defining four of their six group stage matches this term, with only one win to show for it.

The Celtic striker is right to assert that the Hoops can up their game in the knockout stages on though. On their night, the Hoops can give most teams in Europe a game, especially away from the best of the best in the big competition.

With the right draw and the right attitude, it’s easy to envisage the Hoops making it past the round of 32 in the Europa League.