First start in over a month, Ange dilemma; Celtic Predicted XI for Scottish Cup derby

By John McGinley

April 17, 2022

Today’s another defining one for Ange Postecoglou and his Celtic team this season.

Yes, we’ve had many big must-win games this term. The entire campaign has been loaded with meaning. But today means more than most.

The Bhoys have the chance to move into a massive Scottish Cup final and stay on course for a treble. It’s Rangers standing in our way.

Although Celtic have had the better of this derby in the last two meetings, today’s match is as unpredictable as they come.

What team will the manager go for here? This is our best estimation…

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Joe Hart is a certainty to lead the defence from between the sticks. He’s Postecoglou’s go to there of course and his experience will be crucial again.

I’m actually expecting the same back four that has served Celtic so well in recent weeks. Josip Juranovic, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Carl Starfelt and Greg Taylor have all proven individually and collectively they are capable of showing up Rangers.

As always in the manager’s system, Juranovic and Taylor imposing themselves on the game in Rangers’ half are going to be so crucial to how the match pans out.

My midfield three here is nothing surprising with Callum McGregor, Reo Hatate and Tom Rogic getting the call.

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There’s a strong argument for Matt O’Riley too but I just think the captain and Rogic know too much about performing in this fixture and at Hampden to leave them out. Hatate meanwhile looks like he’s getting back to his early form at the Bhoys.

Ange’s big dilemma comes in attack where Giorgos Giakoumakis misses out through injury.

With Kyogo Furuhashi ready to play but stated to be unlikely to get 90 or 120 minutes, the manager must carefully consider whether the Japanese forward should start.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

For me, you don’t start a game with anyone you don’t think will finish it, given how unpredictable football can be. I’ve gone for Daizen Maeda through the middle today with Kyogo ready to come off the bench in the second half.

That’d mean Liel Abada makes his first start since 2nd March on the right flank, with Jota available to do damage on the left.

Your full predicted XI is: Hart, Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor, McGregor, Hatate, Rogic, Abada, Jota, Maeda.