Celtic's bold new attack illustrated by exciting debut for Liel Abada

By Euan Davidson

July 21, 2021

As Celtic debuts go, Liel Abada enjoyed a memorable one against FC Midtjylland.

The Israeli international got himself on the scoresheet, with a deft finish after Ryan Christie forced a save from Midtjylland stopper Jonas Lössl. Maybe it looked easy, but the speed and bounce on the ball… suffice to say, Celtic strikers have missed simpler chances.

Taken off for Dane Murray after Nir Bitton’s sending off [WhoScored?], Abada can feel a little hard done by. However, he took his substitution with grace and applause from an impressed crowd of 9,000.

The goal was excellent, and what Celtic richly deserved. But it’s Abada’s movement and running on the ball that will excite supporters long term. What we didn’t know about the former Maccabi Petah Tikva forward could fill Paradise several times over. Now, though, we’re starting to get an idea.

Fit, after a full pre-season in Israel, Abada might’ve seemed like a maverick choice for a start. He was anything but. From the first whistle, he linked up well with the inverted full-back Anthony Ralston. Often coming deep to receive the ball, he released Ralston on the right flank, to deliver crosses or bring the ball inside.

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Or, when given license to run, he took it with utter aplomb. With Forrest missing last season, and Elyounoussi more of a roaming winger, Abada’s runs to the byline were something Celtic fans sorely missed last season. The Israeli was pressuring the life out the Midtjylland players, requiring Pione Sisto, Midtjylland’s biggest threat, to provide defensive cover.

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With the Danes penned into a defensive corridor, Abada was rampant. Capable of beating players and delivering a cross, he provided two very decent opportunities for a resurgent Ryan Christie in the first half.

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Now, this is all very early. He’s only had 45 minutes of action in the Green and White, and we’ve had players offer us false dawns before now.

However, after the initial Dudu Dahan skepticism, you can see why fans at Celtic Park and watching from home were taken by Liel Abada. Capable of playing on the left, right or middle, he was getting decent shots away, crossing with pace and accuracy, and was bright throughout. Really, if anyone deserved to come off last night, it wasn’t him.

Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

But he’ll have opportunities. Against lesser defences, too. With all respect, it’s not unfair to say FC Midtjylland were a standard above plenty of the teams we’ll encounter domestically this season.

With Kyogo Furuhashi on the other wing, and Odsonne Edouard looking to be staying put for now, there’s a potentially electric front three there. Or, you swap in James Forrest, with Furuhashi playing as a striker. Or Abada as a striker, or Ajeti, or have Karamoko Dembele on the wing. The options seem more exciting now.

When, just days ago, Celtic’s attack looked threadbare. Say what you like about Ange, but he’s put together successful attacks in the past. Given a heftier budget and a remit to play attacking football, Postecoglou has the keys to a potentially fantastic forward line.

Where last night’s concerned? It’s not as if we’re all out buying Abada shirts just yet.

But as Celtic debuts go, Liel Abada had one to remember.

READ MORE: Postecoglou praises young defenders after “frustrating” result