Final Kyogo call, midfield 3; Celtic Predicted XI for title derby

By John McGinley

May 1, 2022

Not long now then. Celtic play Rangers today in a Scottish Premiership clash with huge implications for the direction of the title.

A win for Ange Postecoglou and the Bhoys all but guarantees the trophy is returning to Celtic Park. If Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team are victorious, they pull themselves right back into things at just three points behind with three games to go.

Four derbies have been played this season with Celtic winning two and losing two. However, the most comprehensive win of them all came at today’s venue Celtic Park in February, when the team destroyed our rivals 3-0.

Can a similar performance be produced today and what team will Postecoglou go for? Here’s our best guess at the line-up…

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Joe Hart will start as goalkeeper and the back four in front of him is unlikely to change from the trip to Ross County.

Anthony Ralston, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Carl Starfelt and Greg Taylor will surely all get the nod with Josip Juranovic still unavailable.

Nir Bitton has returned to Celtic training and could be included in the match squad but it’s still unlikely he’ll start with Callum McGregor situated as a dynamic number six.

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There will be much debate about who should further forward but I’ve gone for Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley. Hatate didn’t have the best game at Hampden but in the first hour can help set the tempo. Let’s not forget he was superb in that February derby.

It’s, of course, harsh to leave Tom Rogic on the bench but Rangers did a job on him last time and having a different option in there, to begin with, isn’t the worst idea. Rogic could still play a big role from the bench.

That leaves the front three. Daizen Maeda and Jota are the best candidates to start on the flanks – the former providing incredible pressing energy and the latter possessing the quality to unlock any defence.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

With Kyogo Furuhashi selected through the middle, Celtic’s best player, the Bhoys will have a potent attack. Some will argue for Giorgos Giakoumakis but Kyogo is the best option and can help target the Rangers backline in the opening stages to put them under serious pressure.

Again, Giakoumakis can still have a big say from the bench in the second half.

Your predicted XI in full is: Hart, Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor, McGregor, Hatate, O’Riley, Jota, Maeda, Kyogo.

In other news, Celtic legend Scott Brown targeted by English club for management role.