That Celtic have just one point to show for their performances in the opening four Champions League matches does not tell the whole story.

The points situation has not, in fact, even been the main plot in this particular European campaign.

Instead, ‘missed chances’ has been the oft-repeated critique across the four matches to date behind statistics such as two goals from 54 shots (technically false, it’s one goal from 54 as the other goal, a ‘55th shot’, was Artem Bondarenko’s o.g. from Reo Hatate’s attempted cutback in the Shakhtar Donetsk match) and only 17 efforts on target (that one’s true).

As always, of course, context matters. For Celtic that context can be anything from the quality of the opposition (European champions Real Madrid, for instance) to the impact injuries has had on team selection (Callum McGregor, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Jota missing at various times can’t help) or the form of rival goalkeepers (Anatoliy Trubin of Shakhtar’s six saves in Warsaw springs to mind).

But for today we are not about the opposition. We are strictly about the ‘missed chances’ narrative; the times Celtic had it within their own power to find the net and didn’t.

Celtic Way: StatsBomb's xG scaleStatsBomb's xG scale (Image: StatsBomb)

In that respect, Celtic’s total xG from their 54 shots across the four group games is 5.56 so we can comfortably claim that they have been underperforming in front of goal by scoring just once as Ange Postecoglou himself alluded to post-match against Leipzig.

First, a goals breakdown as we usually do match-by-match in our StatsBomb data round-ups.

Celtic’s 54 shots have come as follows: 43 created from open play; four from a left corner; five from a right corner; zero from penalties; zero from direct free-kicks.

Additionally, 40 of their 54 were taken in the box with 12 of those in what is considered the ‘ideal’ danger zone of close, central locations.

In total, the Hoops have created 11 mid-to-high-quality chances in their four matches to date. Or, if you prefer, 2.75 per game. They scored one of those: Jota’s leveller against RB Leipzig in Germany.

Our mission today, therefore, is to look at those remaining 10 good chances a bit closer. We’ll rank them in ascending xG order (so essentially the final entry is the ‘best’ opportunity).

10. Daizen Maeda v Real Madrid

xG value: 0.16; Result: Missed

This one was in the 88th minute of the opening match against Real Madrid when the holders were already 3-0 up so it’s not only 10th on this list as the least-best ‘big chance’ but also likely the one that would have had the smallest impact had it gone in too.

The opportunity itself came from a McGregor pass, which Maeda reached with his left foot but could not hit the target.

Celtic Way:

= 9. Kyogo Furuhashi v Shakhtar Donetsk & Kyogo Furuhashi v RB Leipzig (H)

xG values: both 0.17; Result; Saved v Shakhtar, missed v Leipzig

Kyogo is next up with a pair of identically-rated chances. The first, in the second minute against Shakhtar, was saved by Trubin after Matt O’Riley had won possession in the final third following a slack attempt at controlling the ball by Taras Stepanenko.

The Dane then played Kyogo in but his right-footed drilled attempt was kept out by Trubin’s foot. A good save as well as a good chance, with a post-shot xG of 0.51 reinforcing this. As it was 0-0 this hitting the net would have put Celtic ahead from the get-go against a genuine rival for progression.

Celtic Way:

The second Kyogo chance was just days ago against Leipzig.

After a considerable Celtic move, Sead Haksabanovic delivered a threatening ball in from the right half-space with the Japan international unmarked in the box. He connects with the ball – still unmarked – at the penalty spot but heads over without working the keeper.

Celtic Way:

7. Greg Taylor v RB Leipzig (H)

xG value: 0.19; Result: Crossbar

An unlikely shooter in a rather unlikely position with a just as unlikely result. Taylor enjoyed a superb first-half showing against the Germans earlier this week and almost capped it off with a first Champions League goal.

His attempt came about after a short corner routine from Haksabanovic and Liel Abada fed O’Riley on the edge of the box. He drilled in a left-footed daisy-cutter from distance that struck the post and landed at the feet of Taylor.

The Scotland international’s somewhat clumsy effort was side-footed into the ground with the ball looping up and off the bar with Janis Blaswich looking beaten. The official’s offside flag was raised but that was, it should be noted, not for Taylor’s attempt but for Maeda’s header afterwards.


6. Matt O’Riley v RB Leipzig (A)

xG value: 0.20; Result: Blocked

This one comes from a very good piece of early build-up play – fourth minute, match at 0-0 – after Taylor wins and retains possession in midfield facing his own goal.

He goes back to Joe Hart and the Hoops work it up the field, eventually seeing a Maeda attempt at controlling a Josip Juranovic cross rebound back into Taylor’s possession on the opposite flank. The left-back find Reo Hatate, who plays a pass to O’Riley’s feet in the box.

Celtic Way:

At this juncture, pictured above, it would be fair to question the 0.20 xG rating given to this chance. When he receives the ball O’Riley is facing away from the goal with two Leipzig players closing in on him rapidly and not only another one blocking his path to goal when he does turn but his own team-mate Kyogo too.

It did prove insurmountable in the end as his attempt hit Joško Gvardiol and was then cleared with relative ease.

5. Jota v Shakhtar Donetsk

xG value: 0.22; Result: Blocked

Another blocked attempt next, this time from Jota in the 72nd minute of the Shakhtar game with the scores at 1-1.

Trubin tries to play out from the back but the combined pressing of Giorgos Giakoumakis, David Turnbull and Jota himself lead to the Portuguese winning possession from Artem Bondarenko in the left half-space.

Celtic Way:

Jota then drives into the area, tries to check back on to his right foot on a couple of occasions but ultimately beats three players and although he sees a gap for shooting eventually, the shot itself is fairly weak and is blocked by Valeriy Bondar, the first of those three Shakhtar players he dribbled past.

4. Giorgos Giakoumakis v RB Leipzig (H)

xG value: 0.24; Result: Missed

The potential penalty. After sensing the place to be was the back post as a dangerous James Forrest cross from the right was being whipped in, Giakoumakis was unable to convert.

Replays appeared to show Benjamin Henrichs grabbing the Greek's arm as he was in the motion of jumping but the incident was not flagged by VAR and it thus goes down as a straight miss. With the score at 1-0 Leipzig, it was a costly one.

3. Daizen Maeda v RB Leipzig (H)

xG value: 0.36; Result: Missed

Maeda enters the list again and, unlike the Real Madrid chance, this one was at the very start of the match against Leipzig at Parkhead with the score at 0-0.

A Celtic attempt at pressing Leipzig while the Germans play it out leads to a punt up the park and a bit of floor-is-lava football breaks out momentarily before Celtic get the ball under some semblance of control and a Hatate pass attempt sneaks through to Haksabanovic near the edge of the area.

Celtic Way:

The Montenegrin lays it to Abada out wide, who plays a first-time cross at a decent height into the six-yard area. Maeda, for his part, has anticipated a chance could develop.

But almost too quickly. He essentially moves faster than the ball can arrive and, rather than meeting it in-stride to glance into the far corner, ends up having to adjust and twist his body position in mid-air to make contact. It leads to his header, and the 0.36 xG-rated chance, soaring too high and wide.

2. Daizen Maeda v Shaktar Donetsk

xG value: 0.38; Result: Missed

Again Maeda’s movement leads to him getting on the end of a good chance but the execution is lacking.

This time it’s an excellent Juranovic drilled cross from the right towards the back post area. Maeda sees the play develop in good time and darts across to get on the end of it but his stretched left-footed attempt is open-footed and flies wide.

Celtic Way:

In terms of game-state this one would have caused particular hurt; with the clock just ticking into the 89th minute and the score locked at 1-1, the impact of converting this 0.38-rated opportunity would surely have reverberated into the Leipzig games and potentially beyond.

1. Daizen Maeda v Real Madrid

xG value: 0.46; Result: Saved

In an act of imperfect symmetry, we started with a Maeda miss against Real Madrid on matchday one and that’s how we end too.

The highest-xG miss of Celtic’s campaign so far, the Japan international’s right-footed attempt was taken from the very definition of a close, central area.

In the lead-up to the shot itself Celtic did well to win the ball back in their own half via McGregor before some slick interplay between Giakoumakis, Jota and Maeda himself led to a Taylor cross.

That was overhit but found Juranovic, who drilled in a half-volleyed cross straight to Maeda’s feet. He had already shimmied away from closest marker David Alaba in fine style but his footwork let him down at the last, with a muddled attempt (post-shot xG of just 0.21) trickling into Thibaut Courtois’s hands. The score at the time? 0-0, which perhaps brings us all the way back to the reason for this article in the first place.