Ange's biggest test yet: Celtic Predicted XI for Glasgow Derby

By Euan Davidson

August 28, 2021

Celtic v Rangers in a Glasgow Derby so early in the season? After securing European football against a top side?

Bhoys, with this schedule, you are really spoiling us.

While Ange Postecoglou is determined this will be a “singular test” instead of a season-defining moment [BBC], you could probably guarantee that the Greek-Aussie boss has had a couple of sleepless nights.

Not least after Greg Taylor and Kyogo saw the rough end of AZ’s treatment on Thursday. James Forrest and James McCarthy missing out entirely won’t have helped much.

Yet, the Celtic boss is in confident mood, injury concerns and all. After assuring us that everyone from Thursday’s squad will be fit [Daily Record], there’s plenty of intrigue in who Postecoglou picks for his Derby debut.

Can his players secure Ange the perfect marker to start his Celtic reign? Here’s who we think he’ll pick tomorrow. Please note that it’s a little different from our tremendous crossover event XI over on YouTube. That’s due in large part to very recent fitness updates.

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Here goes, then!

Big calls for Glasgow Derby start in Celtic’s defence

Obviously, Joe Hart starts.

After a remarkable second-half against AZ Alkmaar, the sting of his early mistake will be bothering him. So far, he’s proven to be utterly, ferociously motivated to the Celtic cause. A big-time display at Ibrox would cement his burgeoning reputation in Glasgow.

Ahead of him, we reckon Greg Taylor will shake off a shoulder knock to take his place at left-back. Welsh and Starfelt, who like Hart, recovered well from early errors, should be expected to start, too.

On the right, though, it’s tricky. Anthony Ralston has been exceptional, but he looked leggy against AZ Alkmaar, especially late on. Finding life difficult against Jesper Karlsson on Thursday night, Ralston was solid, yes, but he’s been used a great deal already.

With that in mind, Postecoglou might opt for Croatian sensation Josip Juranovic to make his debut.

Yes, baptism of fire and all that. But Juranovic, capped 10 times by Croatia, is used to big moments. While Ralston doesn’t deserve to be dropped, per se, we know that Rangers will bring real pace in the wing positions. The Scottish defender, on form, should be playing. But for me, there was enough against AZ to suggest he might need a rest.

A dynamic midfield that needs improvement from Thursday

Much as I love the constituent parts of our midfield, they weren’t entirely at the races on Thursday night.

A significantly better showing, and tactical balance, is going to be needed tomorrow. Whatever team the other lot put out, there’s going to be a significant battle in the middle of the park.

The men I reckon are up for it, while maintaining the attacking zeal of the Postecoglou era? Callum McGregor, David Turnbull and Ryan Christie.

Photo by Jan Christensen / FrontzoneSport via Getty Images

Tom Rogic, while being an outstanding footballer on his day, just doesn’t give the balance that a Celtic midfield needs in tougher games. He’s great passing, going forward and scoring goals, but he leaves McGregor with plenty to do defensively.

That’s why, for me, Turnbull is the better fit. Yes, he too is attack-minded, but his tackling and interception has improved since the start of the season. He’s averaging one of each so far this campaign [WhoScored?].

From an energy perspective, Turnbull can be trusted more readily to get up and down the pitch, and fill in defensively.

Christie, meanwhile, is a player you don’t leave out when he’s fit. He’s already shown he’s got the magic back this season, looking as determined and hungry as ever. With him causing mayhem between the midfield and attack, there’s potential for goals, there.

It’s also, tactically, a superior fit. Christie can dovetail with the attacker on the left of our three (more on him later), taking wing duties and allowing the forwards to come deeper to create overlaps.

A Glasgow Derby swansong for a recent favourite?

One in-form striker? Good. Two? Better.

That’s why I’m opting for Kyogo Furuhashi to play on the left of a front-three, with Edouard in the middle and Abada on the right.

Edouard has played plenty of these games, and scored in them, too. What’s more, it might end up being his last Glasgow Derby for Celtic. For him to leave under any sort of cloud, benched for a game he would’ve been a guaranteed starter in a year ago? It doesn’t sit right, somehow.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

With interest swirling in the Frenchman, he can provide one last classic moment for Bhoys supporters to remember him by. More than sentiment, though, he’s been genuinely very decent the last few games.

Coming off the bench against AZ Alkmaar, he provided a calming presence, helping Celtic to keep the ball while defending from the front. He scored against both Dundee and St Mirren, so the form’s there, too.

Putting Kyogo on Tavernier, provided Rangers play their captain, seems a wise move for me. Yes, we should talk about Celtic strengths rather than worrying about the opposition.

But I am, actually: Kyogo’s relentless running and clever movement will cause their right-back problems all afternoon. He needs little motivation for Celtic in the Glasgow Derby.

As for Abada, I probably would’ve picked a fit James Forrest for a Glasgow Derby, but I just can’t. The Israeli international has been far too good to consider dropping.

He’s scoring goals, terrifying defenders and his end product, at 19, is unbelievable. It may have looked a simple ball for Kyogo the other night, but the speed and the weight of that pass were both absolutely perfect.

Read more: The World Cup winner with his eye on Celtic