More of the same Bhoys: Celtic Predicted XI v AZ Alkmaar

By Euan Davidson

August 25, 2021

So, tomorrow Celtic face part one of a crucial double-header, with AZ Alkmaar providing the opposition in Holland.

The Bhoys carry a 2-0 lead from the home leg [BBC]. Kyogo Furuhashi and an own goal by AZ’s Letschert made the difference in front of 50,000 roaring Hoops supporters. However, the trip to the AFAS Stadium represents a very different test for Postecoglou’s rampant Celtic.

It’d be easy to just type “same team as Saturday, please Ange” and call it a day. But no, there are some subtle tweaks Postecoglou could adopt to scare the life out of our Europa League qualifying opponents.

What’s Ange going to do, then?

Here’s our Celtic Predicted XI to face AZ Alkmaar.

Joe Hart will lead the way for Celtic against AZ Alkmaar

Tomorrow night represents Joe Hart’s biggest test yet in Celtic colours. Thrown in against Jablonec in the Czech Republic, there was definite rustiness to shake off for the former Manchester City goalkeeper. Since then, he’s been colossal.

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With a defence of Greg Taylor, Carl Starfelt, Stephen Welsh and Anthony Ralston in front of him, there’s a settled look to the Bhoys’ back-line. The fears we had about lack of big game experience have been allayed to a degree, with Ralston in particular shining on the big stage.

There’s the obvious temptation to bring in Josip Juranovic, of course. But the Croatian international will surely have to wait a game or two before he gets his full debut in the Green and White. That’s not because he’s a bad player or anything like it, but he has the luxury of not needing to come in right away.

Hart didn’t have that, but he’s been hugely impressive. Expect more of the same from him tomorrow.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

AZ Alkmaar have a three-headed Celtic midfield monster to deal with

I’m a big Ryan Christie fan, but I actually see Ange Postecoglou resisting temptation and saving him for the weekend. With that in mind, I’m suggesting an attacking, versatile trio of Callum McGregor, Tom Rogic and David Turnbull.

Between the three of them, there are goals, assists and enough energy and cunning to unsettle most any defence. Rogic, brought on as a substitute against St Mirren on Saturday, made an immediate impact with his clever movement, setting up Turnbull’s third.

As for Turnbull; you just cannot leave the man out. Heralded by his former boss ahead of this double-header, the Scotland international is on inspired form. He has to start, with Rogic ahead of him as a 10, but only in name.

This midfield is more than capable of rotating positionally, with any of the trio happy to sit deeper and allow the others to rove forward. It maybe lacks a bit of defensive grit that Soro or McCarthy can provide, but this has to be the three that start, for me.

Kyogo Furuhashi probably needs a bit of a rest. He won’t get one.

Talking of form, you just don’t leave out Kyogo Furuhashi at this moment in time. That means someone else has to sit this one out, and I’m guessing that’ll be Odsonne Edouard.

Purely because I believe that for Rangers, having Kyogo on the left of a front three will cause problems for whoever they end up having to play at right-back. In this game, I see Kyogo launching from the middle, with James Forrest and Liel Abada to either side.

It was Celtic’s pace that terrified the Dutch side last time out at Paradise. Having Forrest and Abada making direct runs, confusing defenders and opening up channels for Kyogo sounds pretty devastating to me.

Having Edouard and Ajeti waiting on the bench can only be a good thing, if we need a late winner.

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