Final dress rehearsal, Ange's strongest: Celtic Predicted XI vs Norwich

By John McGinley

July 23, 2022

The new season is nearly, finally upon us but there’s one more pre-season test for Celtic to navigate with the visit of Norwich City later today.

Dean Smith’s squad are in Scotland for a bit of a weekender, also facing Hibernian at Easter Road tomorrow. They’ve had decent results in pre-season so far, beating Marseille 3-0 in France just last weekend.

With their league campaign also kicking off next weekend, this is a great dress rehearsal for the Bhoys to get their teeth into and put the finishing touches to their match preparations.

WARSAW, POLAND – 2022/07/20: Ange Postecoglou coach of Celtic FC seen during the friendly match between Legia Warszawa and Celtic FC at Marshal Jozef Pilsudski Legia Warsaw Municipal Stadium. This match was the last in the career of Artur Boruc (the goalkeeper played in the past for Legia Warszawa and Celtic FC). Final score; Legia Warszawa 2:2 Celtic FC. (Photo by Mikolaj Barbanell/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

As a result, I’m expecting Ange Postecoglou to name his strongest starting eleven currently available. It could even be the team that starts against Aberdeen on flag day.

Joe Hart is a certainty in goal despite the presence of new signing Ben Siegrist. Hart has shared goalkeeping duties with Bain and Siegrist throughout pre-season but he remains the number one pick.

At right-back, you’d say Josip Juranovic is more talented than Anthony Ralston, but for me, the Scotland international has actually had a better pre-season than the Croatian. However, I do expect Juranovic to get the starting nod.

He picked up an injury in early July, so he’s a bit behind in his preparations compared to his teammates and needs the minutes today – if he impresses, he should be in place for the Dons.

Cameron Carter-Vickers‘ position is secure in defence but who partners him is up for debate. Carl Starfelt is still injured, while new signing Moritz Jenz only took part in his first training session yesterday so is more likely to come off the bench.

That leaves Christopher Jullien and Stephen Welsh as candidates to start today, with a preference shown for Welsh recently. It’s Welsh’s big opportunity to shine before Jenz gets up to full speed.

For me, Greg Taylor remains ahead of Alexandro Bernabei for now while the Argentinian adjusts to life at Celtic. In time there’ll be expectations that Bernabei moves above Taylor in the pecking order, but Taylor offers a more secure option as it stands.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

In midfield, Callum McGregor, Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley have been the sharpest central combination throughout the summer. For me, this is Ange’s strongest midfield at the moment, with David Turnbull coming in close behind.

Aaron Mooy hasn’t had much training time this summer and might not even feature today in any capacity, with a debut off the bench against Aberdeen more likely. With that three though, we’re looking strong.

Right now, my preferred options on the wings are Jota and Daizen Maeda. I think they offer different attributes to the attack, with a balance between flair, work rate and end product potentially lethal to the opposition.

In support of Kyogo Furuhashi, it’s a dangerous combination. Giorgos Giakoumakis is back in training following his personal leave but I’d expect to see the Japanese star ahead of him today and for the curtain-raiser next week.

Today’s predicted XI in full is: Hart, Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Welsh, Taylor, McGregor, Hatate, O’Riley, Jota, Maeda, Kyogo.

In other news, Celtic launch new season ticket initiative.