Celtic defender Nir Bitton puts in class display for Israel vs Austria

By David Walton

September 5, 2021

Nir Bitton managed to put in a terrific display for Israel in their shock 5-2 win over Austria in World Cup qualifying.

Bitton hasn’t played for Celtic since mid-August. However, he was front and centre for his country in a huge game against Austria last night.

Playing as a left-sided centre-back, Bitton managed to bag himself an assist on the night when he layed off Manor Solomon to score a superb curling effort.

Stat experts WhoScored gave Bitton a fine 7.07 out of 10 for his display. And defensively, he proved to be a rock as he largely managed to help keep Marko Arnautovic and Christoph Baumgartner quiet.

Bitton also clocked seven clearances on the night in a no-nonsense display, not to mention his three successful tackles on the night.

Another pleasing aspect for Ange Postecoglou will be Bitton’s passing percentage too. An 87.9% passing accuracy rate showed he was generally reliable with the ball at his feet. He wasn’t dispossessed once throughout the match [WhoScored].

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The surprising 5-2 win over the Austrians leaves Bitton’s side in an ideal position in WCQ Group F. Israel sit two points ahead of third-placed Scotland in the playoff position. Austria, meanwhile, are fourth on seven points ahead of their meeting with the Scots on Tuesday night.

Nir Bitton bags much-needed momentum with Israel

It’s fair to say that Bitton’s Celtic career has taken a setback at the start of the new season.

He was given the trust of new boss Postecoglou in the UCL qualifiers against Midtjylland. He let his manager down badly with a needless red card too. Since then, Bitton has only played 90 minutes in two other games – Jablonec and Hearts respectively.

Inastead, the Celtic boss has gone for Carl Starfelt and Stephen Welsh at the heart of his backline for now. Bitton has largely been frozen out, which makes his performance last night all the more important.

Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

It was a mature, effective display from the long-term Celtic servant. Even though he hasn’t played much over the last several weeks, he showed a sharpness to his game against the Austrians.

It won’t make Postecoglou change his mind about who his first-choice centre-backs are. But it’s great for Celtic to see that their back-up options are still able to operate at a high level. Bitton really needed that last night, and it was a big evening for both himself and his country.

Next up for him will be a tough-looking trip to Denmark as we round off the internationals.

In other news, Pierre van Hooijdonk’s verdict on Celtic signing Giakoumakis