Nir Bitton must be given a proper Celtic renaissance after big week

By David Walton

September 28, 2020

It’s been a big week for Nir Bitton, and one that should result in him being rewarded appropriately in the coming ones.

With Christopher Jullien having to stay in Glasgow due to a back injury, Bitton was thrown into the Celtic side against Riga on Thursday night. Previously, he had only started two games out of the previous nine so far this season (Transfermarkt).

Between him and Jeremie Frimpong, there was a real debate to be had about who the man-of-the-match in that vital Europa League qualifier was. However, the fans were extremely thankful for what Bitton produced on the night.

Celtic centre-back Nir Bitton (Photo by Paul Ursachi/MB Media/Getty Images)

Unsurprisingly, he was back in the side yesterday afternoon for the visit of high-flying Hibernian. Again, this appeared to be mainly because Jullien was still injured.

Once again, the big Israeli strolled it. Stat experts WhoScored ranked him as the second-best Celtic performer against Hibs behind Callum McGregor, with a superb score of 7.76 overall. He also had more touches than anyone else on the pitch yesterday.

This resulted in Lennon coming out after the match and telling Celtic’s official media channels that he believed Bitton was “class” as the right-sided centre-back.

Bitton’s form deserves recognition

But now it’s time to continue backing Nir regardless of whether Jullien is back or not. For two games in-a-row, he’s been our best centre-back and has been criminally underrated for too long.

Put it this way, if Shane Duffy was playing the way Bitton has over the last two games, it would be a lot more highly publicised. The truth is, Bitton has done absolutely nothing wrong.

It’s not as if Jullien’s place in the team should be safe anyway. He’s continued to show some frailties in dealing with physical front-men again this season. That’s not something Bitton has had any trouble with in the last two matches.

Celtic defender Nir Bitton in action for Israel / (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

In fact, Christian Doidge and Kevin Nisbet both got absolutely no change from Bitton yesterday. It’s no surprise they tried to avoid targeting him.

Bitton hasn’t been a regular in the Celtic starting XI since the start of the 2019/20 season. It’s time for Lennon to provide him with the renaissance his form has deserved this week.

When Celtic travel to Sarajevo for Thursday’s massive Europa League playoff clash, Bitton has to be in the starting line-up. And it simply doesn’t matter who else is fit either.