Martin Keown insists lack of domestic competition harms Celtic in Europe


FORMER Arsenal and England defender Martin Keown insists the lack of competition to Celtic in the Scottish Premiership is part of the reason they were outclassed by Valencia.

The La Liga outfit ran out comfortable 2-0 winners in Thursday’s Europa League last-32 first leg in Glasgow.

And Keown believes the Hoops – who are vying for an eighth successive league crown – came up short because they are rarely tested in Scotland.

The BT Sport pundit said: “They’re bossing the Scottish Premiership at the moment, eight points clear, and they can play with a lot of freedom but against Valencia that wasn’t quite there.

“They don’t get asked to defend that often and the more they get asked that question in their own league the better they’ll be in Europe.

“They’re so dominant in their own league that some of the basics are falling away from their game.”

Former Liverpool forward Joe Cole, who played under Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers at Anfield, agreed with Keown.

He said: “They fall into that trap where they’re dominating their league and are rarely getting tested so the back four don’t see danger because they don’t get punished (in the Scottish Premiership) – but these Valencia players will punish you.”