Nir Bitton thrills Celtic fans with dominant display in Riga tonight

By David Walton

September 24, 2020

There weren’t many terrific individual performances in Riga tonight, but Nir Bitton certainly produced one.

The Israeli centre-back stepped in from the cold to take the place of Christopher Jullien after spending the first nine games of the campaign often being rooted to the bench.

Bitton managed 16 minutes of the weekend’s 3-2 win at home to Livingston, but had only played two full 90-minute games since the beginning of the season before tonight.

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

And tonight he stood out. Dominating the Riga forward line and ensuring that Vasilis Barkas wasn’t tested pretty much summed up his display in a nutshell. His display also ensured the Hoops kept a vital clean sheet. And the Celtic supporters were certainly appreciative too.

Here’s a look at some of their reaction to his performance:

Time for more minutes?

It’s generally accepted that Bitton knows where he is in the pecking order. He’s a reliable centre-back who can come in and do a job when Celtic need cover.

However, the more you see him, the more you think that being labeled anything along the lines of a fringe player is a disservice to his quality.

Bitton was commanding at Tannadice and came under no threat against KR Reykjavik in the Champions League qualifiers earlier on this summer. Every time he’s been asked to come in and produce, he’s more than shined for the club.

Christopher Jullien sat out in riga (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

There’s a real debate to be had as to whether he offers more than the likes of Christopher Jullien at centre-back. There’s no clumsiness in Bitton’s play these days, and there’s a composure to his passing that shows you he used to be a cultured midfielder.

Yet most importantly there’s a composure when he’s under pressure. Whether there’s a vital challenge that needs made or whether he’s quickly shut down when on the ball, there’s never any panic. That was on full display once again this evening.

It was a bit of a brutal night for individual performances this evening, but Bitton was absolutely a standout exception.

In other news, John Hartson reacted on Twitter to Neil Lennon’s surprising pre-match change.