O’Riley says Japan tour will ‘really help’ Celtic when season starts

Celtic beat Gamba Osaka 1-0 in Japan on Saturday.

Matt O’Riley says Japan tour will ‘really help’ Celtic when season starts SNS Group

Matt O’Riley believes Celtic will take the benefits of their Japan tour into the upcoming season.

The Hoops midfielder was speaking after a 1-0 win over Gamba Osaka which came through an 85th-minute goal by defender Alexandro Bernabei.

The victory came after last season’s treble winners had lost 6-4 to Yokohama F Marinos on Wednesday and speaking to CelticTV O’Riley, who played more than 100 minutes of football over both games, said: “It was tough with the conditions, not just in the weather but the pitch was a lot heavier than the last game.

“It was a good test and both teams played good football and made it difficult for us.

“It’s good and it’s quite unique playing against other teams that have built their fitness, so that’s quite a challenge.

“Their fitness levels are already quite high and they are halfway through their season.

“From a structural point of view they have good cohesion and it was tough going but it will really help us going into the season.

“Regardless of both teams having a lot of chances we were very solid defensively and put our body on the line even in a pre-season game.”

Brendan Rodgers’ squad returns to Scotland in the coming days with the trip bringing an end to the few weeks of training in Europe and Asia, and with two more games coming up in Dublin and Glasgow.

Ahead of the opening Premiership game against Ross County in a couple of weeks, O’Riley spoke about the positivity under Rodgers, who returned for a second spell as Celtic boss following Ange Postecoglou’s departure to Tottenham.

He said: “I feel really good and we’re in a better place than we were in the last game.

“The scoreline in the last game is one we didn’t want but it’s still early in pre-season.

“I’m very lucky to have had very good managers in a short space of time at a young age.

“The gaffer here is especially good at communicating and getting his point across in a concise way. For all of us, that makes it easier to transition onto the pitch.

“Being able to have this relationship where you can speak to him and learn new things constantly in an open environment is very enjoyable.”

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