Midfield shuffle, striker returns; Celtic Predicted XI v Livingston

By Euan Davidson

October 30, 2021

Sometimes, writing a Celtic Predicted XI is relatively straightforward. When the team’s on form, there’s no need to change much.

We’ve seen a level of consistency in recent games. Broadly speaking, the spine of the team has been established, from Joe Hart through to Kyogo. There’s a central defensive pairing that’s working wonders.

The full-backs seem settled, with Juranovic and Ralston providing so much in defence and attack. Up front, you can’t drop Jota or Kyogo, they’re just too good.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

But it was the midfield that offered the most promise. With Callum McGregor operating deeper and dictating the tempo, Celtic were playing some magnificent football. That was never truer than on Wednesday, as Hibs saw what the Hoops look like in full flow.

Annoyingly, we might not see that again for a wee while.

Tom Rogic, who’s re-established himself as a starter for Celtic, is missing with a hamstring problem. The Socceroo will be out for 2-3 weeks, and it means Postecoglou is going to have move things around in his midfield.

Meanwhile, there are choices to make across the pitch. Does the Celtic manager go with his strongest possible XI, to keep up momentum? Or, will he rest some of his key players before a tricky trip to Hungary to face Ferencvaros?

Questions, questions. At the very least, Postecoglou now has the options to put out a strong starting XI regardless of rotation.

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So who makes our Celtic Predicted XI against Livingston?

Joe Hart leads “deeecent” defence in Celtic Predicted XI with no need for change

We had another scare, injury-wise. Josip Juranovic needed a trip to the hospital after a knock to the eye against Hibernian.

He’s fine though. In fact, he’s been out eating steaks with Joe Hart, which sounds like a fine way to spend an evening.

Talking of Hart, we’re expecting another solid performance from the former England goalkeeper. He’ll lead a defence of Juranovic, Anthony Ralston, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt.

The centre-back duo have been excellent in recent games. We’ve still only conceded once at home, and this Celtic Predicted XI has enough about it defensively to shut out Livi.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Celtic Predicted XI: A big decision in midfield

Do you go with the same attacking focus without Tom Rogic? Or, do you put a holding midfielder in the starting XI and give Callum McGregor free rein to cause chaos? The choices are bountiful.

For what it’s worth, we’re going with the latter. Sure, Jota could play as a number 10, but for at least the start of our game against Livingston, we’re going with Nir Bitton to keep things balanced.

In front of the Israeli international, the captain and fellow Scotland man David Turnbull will be leading the way in an attacking sense.

There’s plenty of creativity, even without Rogic. That, and Postecoglou can always change things up as and when he needs to, with McGregor dropping further back.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Feed the Giak and he will score

You’ll remember the last time we played Livingston. It was horrible.

David Martindale’s side kept a compact, low block in the middle. That forced Jota and Abada to become the focal points of our attack, aiming crosses into the middle for Albian Ajeti.

It profoundly did not work. But we think having a physical striker up front is no bad thing. Enter, Giorgos Giakoumakis.

With Kyogo Furuhashi playing off him on the right, and Jota on the left, there’s so much talent there. Providing opportunities for ‘The Giak’ – as I insist on calling him – will be crucial, sure. But the wing duo, who as we know can be clinical in front of goal, will have just as much work to do.

All three are match-winners. We know this to be the case. And even if Livingston do somehow force us wide again, there’s a more optimistic feel about the Celtic attack this time round.

Read more: Postecoglou on Celtic spirit; discusses own transition to life in Scotland