Kyogo, Giakoumakis and the gung-ho Celtic experiment Postecoglou could try

By Euan Davidson

November 11, 2021

They say that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and that’ll definitely be an idiom in Ange Postecoglou’s mind as he ponders his striker choices, Kyogo and Giakoumakis, two Celtic summer signings.

One is a bona fide fan favourite already. Kyogo has lit up the Scottish Premiership, with outstanding attacking output. 13 goals and 3 assists in 18 games add up to 16 goal involvements for the Bhoys this season [Transfermarkt].

Giorgos Giakoumakis has found it tougher. In his first start for Celtic, he scored, but his second game was bitterly disappointing. Last year’s Eredivisie top scorer squandered a gift of a penalty late on against Livingston.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

However, he looks to have the attributes to make a mark at Celtic. Keen on defending from the front, and clinical in front of goal, there’s a future for the Greek striker yet.

But how does that look? Is there a way of playing both Kyogo and Giakoumakis through the middle? What, then, becomes of Jota and Abada, who have been similarly electric for Celtic this season?

Ange Postecoglou experimented with a back 3 when he was Australia manager. His shape was unorthodox, but it might suit the personnel he has at Celtic.

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It was a 3-2-4-1 shape – of sorts – that Postecoglou used with the Socceroos [Goal]. Essentially, it allowed roving full-backs to start in a more advanced role, while there’s still a front three of sorts. In defence, you’ve got 3 men across the penalty box, with the goalkeeper acting as sweeper [Tim Palmer].

It’s an interesting formation, something akin to Marcelo Bielsa’s Chile side.

How would a formational change for Celtic manager Postecoglou benefit Giakoumakis and Kyogo?

What could work is if Postecoglou modified his Australia formation slightly. Obviously, there are significant pros and cons to that approach.

Adding an extra centre back would inherently mean losing a midfield presence. But it would mean that if you had say, Jullien, in a sweeper role operating as the deepest centre-back, Starfelt and Carter-Vickers would have free roam to press.

You could have Juranovic/Taylor and Anthony Ralston in their inverted wing-back roles, supporting Callum McGregor as the lone “traditional” central midfielder. Definitely risky, but out of possession you’d have two banks of three, or a back five, if there’s a break on.

Then, it’s all attack. Jota and Abada would occupy more narrow wing roles, with Kyogo and Giakoumakis operating as a front two.

Then you’d get something a bit like this;

Risky? Inherently, yes. It would put enormous pressure on Callum McGregor. That said, in the current system, McGregor works behind two number 10s when we’re playing against teams who don’t dominate possession.

It puts a lot of onus on the wing-backs, however. They’d essentially operate as both full-backs and as a double pivot for the midfield. That’s a lot of work for two players.

Kyogo could occupy more of a number 10 role behind Giakoumakis in this Celtic formation, with the Greek striker aiming to press central defenders out of possession. Or, he could act as a target for longer passes.

You would, though, get the front two. Postecoglou is unlikely to use a flat 4-4-2, sorry traditionalists.

Would Postecoglou try something so gung-ho, even by his standards? It’s hard to imagine.

However, this illustrates the challenge he has if he wants to keep his two main strikers happy. If he doesn’t, it’ll be Kyogo that’s relied upon, with Giakoumakis hoping to make impact from the bench.

Will that keep the Greek striker happy? Who knows.

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