By Kevin Craigens
ASKING Celtic to go to Germany and beat Bayern Munich would be a tall order in the Champions League tonight. But does height make a difference in a world of tiki-taka football?
Gordon Strachan suggested that genetics was to blame for his Scotland side’s failure qualifying for the World Cup.
But a leading sports psychologist believes that it is style of play and not physicality that is key.
Dr Hayley McEwan from the University of the West of Scotland says: “If you look at the percentages of passing statistics and in terms of styles of play, like Tottenham and Barcelona, then the objective is to not play with the ball in the air so much.
“If we were taking height into account then it would really depend on the style of play of the team. If you look at Bayern Munich you could comment on the amount of crosses and passes that were made.”
The two sides tonight are physically well matched. Bayern Munich have eleven players over six feet out of a squad of 28 and with the tallest player, Niklas Sule, standing at 195cm (6ft3″). The smallest player in the Bayern team is Rafinha, 172cm (5ft6″).
In comparison Celtic have the same amount of players over six feet but have the tallest player in either squad at 196cm (6ft4″), Kristoffer Ajer and have the smallest out of both squads, Patrick Roberts 167cm (5ft4″).
But Dr McEwan argues that it is a winning mentality that really makes the difference: “That starts very early on. A lot of players have come through the national team through different routes some have come through academy routes it is about building that mentality.
“It is not something that is required for one game. It needs to be built like their technical skills that they hone for years.”
Celtic must step up for the challenge of Bayern Munich however they have a domestic record to be proud of and take confidence from. Having won seven league games and drawn two while scoring 21 goals so far this season.
On the other hand Bayern have won five drawn two but lost one while scoring the same amount of goals as Celtic.
Dr McEwan says that Strachan’s comments were “strange”.
“You are born with what you are born with. You could compare that with other systems. If you look at the Dutch systems where they develop coaches and players based on what their natural ability is,” Dr McEwan said.
“In other words you can develop people based on the natural ability. They have a nature versus nurture argument.
“It seems like an argument which does not take responsibility, it is really easy to say that we are on the back foot because of our genetics instead of taking responsibility and saying it is down to our limited access to sport science support to develop players.”