6 away-day derby debuts, big Ange call; Celtic predicted XI for today's rival clash
It’s a huge, huge day for Celtic in their quest to win back the Scottish Premiership title as their massive Ibrox opportunity awaits.
Victory today in Govan would take us 6 points clear at the top of the table with only 6 matches remaining. It would, unofficially, be more or less over. It would take a cataclysmic disaster for us to lose control from that position. Especially given our goal difference is effectively an extra point for us.
Some will say that Celtic go into today’s clash with the Ibrox side needing only a point. However, it’s simply not in Ange’s philosophy to hunt for anything less than 3 points and an entertaining win.
Celtic also clearly go into this game this afternoon with their squad as powerful as it could possibly be. Outside of James Forrest, we appear to have everyone available to us. Undoubtedly, the international break was kind to us.
But what XI will the manager go for? Will it be Kyogo or Giakoumakis? Here, we delve into our predicted XI for what could be a defining day in the title-race…
Celtic Predicted XI vs Rangers
There’s no debate about who’s going to start in goal for the Hoops today. Joe Hart kept a clean sheet against Rangers at Celtic Park, and his performance today will be crucial when it comes to providing us a platform to get at our rivals.
Celtic go into this match with the best defensive lineup in the country. Only 18 goals conceded in 31 league games, and that’s been helped by the manager’s consistency when it comes to his selection. That won’t change this afternoon. Josip Juranovic, Carl Starfelt, Cameron Carter-Vickers, and Greg Taylor will all likely be involved from the start at Ibrox.
The midfield is where we can see Ange making his big change. Tom Rogic may be fit and available, but we know it’s been a troubling break for him after initially picking up an injury that ruled him out of travelling to Australia.
Therefore, we believe Matt O’Riley is going to come in and play alongside Callum McGregor. Callum, as we all know, will play a deeper role with O’Riley being given the license to cause Rangers some problems in the final third.
That means that Reo Hatate will be given the opportunity to repeat his glorious Glasgow derby feat from February. His brace at Parkhead made him an instant hero amongst the support. If he can provide similar inspiration this afternoon? Let’s just say his popularity will reach greater heights.
Ange has recently shown a preference for Daizen Maeda on the left with Jota down the right. Given Liel Abada played two 90-minute games for Israel under-21s during the break, you can see him starting on the bench.
As for the major talking point, Ange has certainly shown that he’s been willing to throw curveballs throughout his Celtic managerial career. Don’t expect that to be the case today. Kyogo may be back available, but all the signs point to a second consecutive Glasgow derby start for Giorgos Giakoumakis. He along with Carter-Vickers, O’Riley, Hatate, Jota, and Maeda will all make their first Ibrox derby appearances should they start. All eyes will be on how they cope with the pressure.