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.
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:
Big Bitton deserves more game time, so consistent and composed
— Aaidann (@aallan1967) September 24, 2020
Positives a that half were 10 minutes of frimpong and bitton smoking a cigar full half
— kieran byrnes (@kbyrnes95) September 24, 2020
Big Bitton coolest CH at Celtic Park by a Mile
— GGW (@glasgowsgreenw) September 24, 2020
Bitton is just a unit man, honestly what a player.
— 𝘚𝘩𝘢𝘺™️ (@Shayy__4) September 24, 2020
Bitton is so underrated, the guy is absolutely class.
— KianMcGrath*🏴 (@kianmcgrath03) September 24, 2020
Nir Bitton coming in and giving a better performance as a defender than any of our centre backs in the last 4 weeks. 😂
— Cal (@__CalMc) September 24, 2020
Say it all the time but nir bitton is criminally underrated
— aidan (@aidanfellowes67) September 24, 2020
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.
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.