Hatate verdict, Maeda threat; 3 things we learned from Celtic win vs Hibs

By John McGinley

January 17, 2022

Well that was quite a night, wasn’t it? There has been a fair bit of hype about the return of Celtic over the last week or so and, for me, tonight’s 90 minutes at home to Hibs didn’t disappoint.

Celtic ran out 2-0 winners thanks to goals from new signing Daizen Maeda and Josip Juranvoic, thrilling a busy Paradise.

Football is back, fans are back and there’s a lot to talk about. So what did we learn about the Bhoys from tonight’s three points?

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Refreshed Celtic

Yes, the winter break is a good thing. If you were left in any doubt about the importance of the mid-season breather, you must be convinced tonight.

Celtic had energy, intensity and purpose in their game, especially in the first half. If anything, it looked like they were still working their way back to a peak after the interval.

Players such as Carl Starfelt and Josip Juranovic looked sharp, while James Forrest and Liel Abada were consistent outlets on the flanks.

“It’s all set up for Maeda to shine” | Celtic vs Hibernian Preview

“It’s all set up for Maeda to shine” | Celtic vs Hibernian Preview
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

With squad depth improving, it all bodes well for the weeks to come, make no mistake. Celtic are ready for the challenges ahead.

Tonight was a great building block for the second half of the season.

Hatate the maestro

New signing Reo Hatate was fantastic tonight, especially before half-time. His first 45 minutes in a Celtic shirt made quite the first impression. In fact, I bet it’s remembered for quite some time.

Vision, work rate, a bit of magic – he seems to have a complete midfield game for that attacking midfield position beside Tom Rogic.

He covers a lot of ground too. He doesn’t just sit in the opposition half, he was tracking back, making interceptions and tackles even when he did lose possession.

On this showing, we’ve found a very exciting player and I am already counting down the minutes until his next performance in a Celtic shirt.

If he can play consistently, there’s absolutely no doubt it will transpire that we’ve robbed Kawasaki Frontale.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The Maeda threat

What of our other starting debutant tonight? Daizen Maeda was exactly as advertised. Quick, hard-working, aware of the opposition and most importantly, deadly with his big opportunity in front of goal.

Yes, it took just three and a half minutes for him to become a superstar in Glasgow, guiding home Tom Rogic’s classy assist.

Maeda is very much in the Kyogo mould and I don’t say that because they are both Japanese. He’ll be a constant thorn in opposition defences even if he doesn’t have many touches in a game. His work off the ball can be just as important as that off of it.

He looks ready to go, which is good, because Kyogo could be out for a number of weeks even after tonight’s absence. I like what I witnessed from the new boy.

In other news, Ange Postecoglou delivers Kyogo injury update at Celtic Park; Griffiths also discussed.