Celtic centre-back Jozo Simunovic started in the Scottish club’s 2-0 Europa League defeat against Valencia at Celtic Park on Thursday night.
It marked only the 24-year-old’s third appearance in the competition this season, and he did little to suggest that he should retain his place in the starting XI when Leicester City loanee Filip Benkovic eventually returns to full fitness.
The Bhoys made it all too easy for their Spanish opposition to bag two vital away goals on Thursday. Both goals were preventable, and Simunovic could certainly have done more to prevent his team from falling behind.
Defensively, the Croatia under-21 international’s performance left plenty to be desired. He didn’t manage to make a single tackle in the game, whilst he could also only contribute one interception. However, no Celtic player was able to make more than the three clearances that were completed by Simunovic.
On the ball, though, the defender was able to show a lot of quality. He found himself in possession a great deal throughout the match, and was very comfortable and reliable in his distribution. Over the course of the match, he touched the ball 163 times and completed 157 passes – in both instances he led all players on the pitch.
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Those figures also include four accurate long passes, from five attempted. Simunovic’s overall pass accuracy rating of 96.8% was very impressive. Had he been able to marry that quality on the ball with a more diligent and impactful defensive display then Simunovic would have made a real statement on Thursday.
As it was though, the 24-year-old’s ball-playing prowess will be forgotten in the misery of an avoidable defeat for Brendan Rodgers’ side on the European stage.