Celtic crashed to a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Atletico Madrid in the Civitas Metropolitano Stadium on Matchday Four of the Champions League.

It was always going to be a tall order for Brendan Rodgers' side, especially away from home against Diego Simeone's team of world-class players. They started reasonably well, a well-timed tackle from Alistair Johnston setting the tone early doors, though that good feeling would not last. Following a mistimed punch from Joe Hart, Callum McGregor lazily headers the ball to Antoine Griezmann, who made no mistake from outside the box. Celtic were a goal down and then a man down, as Daizen Maeda was adjudged to have committed a red-card offence in the eyes of VAR. The hosts would double their lead in first-half stoppage time, with Alvaro Morata effectively given a tap-in by his teammate, leaving Hart with no chance.

It got worse in the second half, as goals from Griezmann and Lino made it even more comfortable for a Madrid side that barely broke sweat in truth. Morata again got in on the act with a stunning strike of his own, but the game was over from the sixth minute in truth. Saul Niguez scored to make it six for the hosts, in what was a miserable night for Celtic and Rodgers.

Rodgers made several changes for this game, as he brought back Kyogo Furuhashi and Alistair Johnston in place of Oh Hyeon-gyu and Anthony Ralston. In the midfield, Matt O'Riley returned after sitting Saturday's game out up in Dingwall, much like Johnston. David Turnbull was benched despite scoring in his last two games, as Paulo Bernardo retained his place, whilst Luis Palma replaced Yang Hyun-jun on the left wing. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Liam Scales continued their blossoming partnership, whilst Daizen Maeda offered his usual defensive winger capabilities from the off for Rodgers' side.

With all of that being said, what did The Celtic Way make of tonight's proceedings in Spain's capital city? Ryan McGinlay has his say...

A lesson in game management

What do you think of when you hear the team name Atletico Madrid? The word ‘streetwise’ springs to mind, something which Celtic have not got a single ounce of, especially in European competition. Simeone’s side are the masters of this, especially concerning managing a game and the little incidents that happen throughout proceedings. Say what you want about the Maeda challenge, but the Madrid players made it their duty to convince the referee to change the colour of his card, which VAR made a reality. Celtic have got to learn from Simeone’s team, regardless of how negative the perception of the less-glamourous side in Madrid has around them. This is not to say that Celtic should roll about or constantly goad the referee for decisions, but their game management must improve at this level or the seemingly never-ending cycle of hopeless away performances in Europe will continue. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. For as long as we all can remember, this cycle away from home is the very definition of football insanity. By hook or by crook, Celtic have got to find a way of changing this, especially with potentially more games in Europe next season against an ever-improving standard of opposition on club football’s biggest stage. Either way, it is exhausting to see the same story play out again and again in the Champions League year after year.

There goes Europe (again)

After four games in the Champions League, this year’s competition is effectively over for Celtic, now having to play out the final two games with virtually nothing to play for. One point after four games – regardless of the opposition you come up against – is simply not good enough, especially when the objective for Celtic is Europe after Christmas, either in the Champions League or a drop-down to the Europa League. A lot was made when Rodgers returned to the club regarding making Celtic much better in continental competition, and whilst the reverse fixture against Atletico Madrid was encouraging, it has been a largely horrific experience when you boil down to purely results. Akin to a participation medal a marathon entrant would receive, Celtic have unfortunately made up the numbers in a European group stage, and not for the first time. The proof is in the pudding, which spells out that Celtic are clearly not yet good enough for this level of competition. Perhaps this will prompt the board into action regarding transfer acquisitions that are ready to play at this level, though that may be easier said than done, especially in the January window. All roads probably point to the summer for those high-quality additions, as they are desperately needed at this level to truly compete.

The curious case of Hart

The case of Hart in goals for Celtic is a curious one. Having pulled off several top-class saves throughout the game, his mistake early on in proceedings could have been lost in all of the drama following Atletico’s opener. As a goalkeeper, you have to dominate your area and be assertive in between the sticks, and Atletico’s first goal is a big example of that simply not being the case in terms of the former England international. A cross comes into the box, and Hart elects to punch the ball rather than come out and collect it with both hands. By making that decision, he misses the ball with his fist, leading to the throw-in that led to the first goal. Yes, a lot of the blame will go to McGregor for the inaccurate header that found its way to Griezmann, but this lack of calmness from someone so experienced really set the tone for the rest of the game. It is easy to forget that in the first five minutes of this contest, Celtic were on the front foot and had started well, but these two mistakes proved fatal, both in terms of the concession of the goal and the contest as a whole. Regardless of his many good saves in the game from the potent attacking force of Atletico Madrid, it is a position that Celtic must look to strengthen going forward. He could do nothing for both the second, third and fourth goal in truth, but the mistake for the opener did all the damage for his team, especially when they were in the ascendancy in the opening exchanges.

A new number six needed

If Celtic are to improve as a European force, then the number six role is a position that must be addressed but addressed with quality additions. McGregor, who is usually a consistently good performer, had a shocker for his team tonight in truth. Largely at fault for the opener, the midfielder’s passing was wretched throughout, which is very uncharacteristic of the captain. Not known for his defensive work either, Celtic evidently struggled tonight without a true holding midfielder on the park to break up attacks and build from the back. McGregor can get away with this domestically, as he is head and shoulders above the vast majority of players he comes up against on both ends of the pitch, but he does not have the defensive capabilities to fulfil the defensive midfielder role in Europe, as harsh as that is. Taken off after 70 minutes, this was one of the poorest performances in a long time from the usually brilliant number 42, though he was not the only one in truth. No doubt he will be back in good form for the weekend against Aberdeen – he always is - but this was certainly a night to forget for Celtic’s captain, on a night where nothing went right for the club whatsoever.

Celtic's domestic form must not waver

No two ways about it, tonight was a hammering, regardless of the man advantage that Atletico Madrid had for the vast majority of proceedings. A game that was effectively over when Griezmann scored in the sixth minute, Celtic have to be careful that this does not creep into their league form at the weekend, as tonight will have been a morale-sapping exercise for Rodgers’ players. In a phrase that gets repeated year upon year, the league is the ‘bread and butter’ of Celtic’s season, and they must not let tonight’s game affect their good standing in the league table, with a rejuvenated Aberdeen making the journey to Glasgow on Sunday. This is where Rodgers will earn his wages as the elite man-manager that has been described by many of his former players throughout his career, as he will have to pick these players up after a demoralising night in Madrid. Hopefully, we see a response from these players, as they will no doubt be looking to take their anger out on the next team they face domestically, as any wounded animal would do. Easier said than done, of course.