BBC pundit: Celtic need dramatic improvement in this area to challenge in Europe
By Harvey Byrne
BBC pundit and former Scotland international Michael Stewart believes Celtic still need to improve their centre-backs if they are to challenge for the Champions League.
The Hoops have dominated Scottish football this season under Brendan Rodgers, winning both the Premiership title and Scottish League Cup trophy, while they will also be making their way into the Scottish Cup final after Sunday’s 2-0 victory over rivals Rangers.
However, they were dumped out of the Champions League at its group stage after failing to win a single game from their six matches.
Rodgers will now be aiming to push on in Europe’s elite competition next season and Stewart believes dramatic improvement is needed in their centre-backs if they are to improve on this campaign’s woes.
“They don’t need to strengthen anywhere domestically,” started Stewart speaking on BBC Sport Scotland in regards to where the Hoops need to strengthen.
Subscribe to Football Insider TV now
“But, you look at Celtic’s starting eleven and they can improve dramatically in terms of not being exposed at the back, but actually that is a collective unit rather than individuals all of a sudden becoming great players.
“But, if you’re going to go and challenge in the Champions League and do better you need to get better centre halves.”
Celtic have played with a centre-back pairing of Erik Sviatchenko and Jozo Simunovic this season, while Kolo Toure and Dedryck Boyata have stepped into the team when needed.
They have helped the club to a fine defensive record of just 22 goals conceded from their 33 league matches, but it is clear the team will be looking to avoid conceding 16 goals from six Champions League matches, as they did this season.