Josip Juranovic admits he's loving playing at left-back for Celtic

By David Walton

October 27, 2021

Celtic defender Josip Juranovic has finally discussed being played out of position at left-back by Ange Postecoglou.

The Croatian international was signed in the summer for £2.5m from Legia Warsaw [Scottish Sun]. During his time in Poland, he made his name as an overlapping right-back. It’s also where he shines for the Croatian senior side, with Celtic fans believing he was also signed for that position.

But only 2 of his 7 Celtic outings have seen him occupy that position. Instead, Postecoglou has thrown him over to the left-side, where he’s still performed admirably. Yet he’s done so despite there already being heavy competition for that particular spot.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Even so, Juranovic addressed the situation in the build-up to tonight’s game against Hibernian at Easter Road. It’s fair to say he enjoys it regardless.

As quoted by the Daily Record [print edition, 27/10, page 49], Juranovic said: “Whatever the manager says, that is where I will play. I will help the team to achieve our goals this season.

“When I am at left-back, I feel that Tony [Ralston] and me play really well together. I like this system because I am always on the ball.

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“I can go into the middle. I always have one player behind me. But I can go up with Jota on the left side or with Liel Abada or Kyogo on the right. The system is really good.”

Josip Juranovic loving the left-back life, but Celtic boss still needs to tweak things

So clearly no issues from Josip when it comes to playing out of position. And you can see he’s comfortable in the role too. There’s a reason he remains a popular figure even though he isn’t operating in his natural area on the pitch.

But even so, you can also see that Josip is limited in that position. He appears hesitant to go both on the overlap or the underlap when playing on the left. He clearly doesn’t trust his left foot all that much, and would much rather cut inside.

This is fine for games against better sides in which the final third can open up for us. However, many sides in Scotland will flood that central area of the final third, making it a lot trickier to pick a pass or provide some inspiration.

Photo by Jurij Kodrun/Getty Images

When it comes to matches against many sides in Scotland, stretching them is key. That requires your wide men to go wide, using the full-backs as extra support. You just wonder how effective Josip can be in that role when he’s on the left flank.

In any case, he doesn’t have any problems with it for now. Postecoglou doesn’t appear to be close to dropping Ralston either.

This could be an experiment we see in operation for some time yet.

In other news, Celtic boss addresses exciting Mikey Johnston return