Shaun Maloney challenges his Hibs side as Celtic gear up for Easter Road test

By Euan Davidson

February 25, 2022

Former Celtic favourite Shaun Maloney has already come up against the Bhoys with his Hibs side this season.

In a 2-0 win for Celtic, Maeda and Juranovic’s first-half efforts saw off a Hibernian side who are still undergoing significant changes. Maloney has stressed a need for possession-based football, and two wins from their last two show a progression.

Albeit, that came after an inconsistent start to life at Easter Road for Maloney, who was an assistant manager for Roberto Martinez’s Belgium side.

Photo by Ian Jacobs/MB Media/Getty Images

It was Hibs who actually dominated possession in the last encounter between the teams, particularly in the second half. In a rare occurrence at Celtic Park, Maloney’s side had more of the ball and made more passes [Fotmob]. Ultimately, they didn’t do enough with the ball, something Maloney has recognised.

And the former Celtic player has issued a challenge for his players, who he’s said are in a “better” place than they were in January. Maloney said [Daily Express]: “We need to improve a fair bit from that game.

“There was lots we can improve on. In possession, at times, I thought we were okay but we need to be more clinical and create more than we did at Celtic Park.

“Out of possession we need to be more aggressive and limit the amount of opportunities they have.

“But we’re in a better place. The possession we had at Celtic Park was one thing, but we have to create more chances than we did.”

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Maloney and Hibs offer Celtic stern test, but Ange Postecoglou will want to banish European demons as quickly as possible

Celtic need a big, cleansing win after last night. Easter Road, then, is maybe not the ideal place to go this weekend.

The Hibees have typically provided stern opposition at home. Last season, we drew twice against the Leith side, including an insipid season-ender where Scott Brown played his last game for Celtic [Sky Sports].

This time round, it’s been a bit different. For one thing, Celtic have seen off Hibernian in scintillating fashion away at Easter Road. The first half against Hibs in a 3-1 win was amongst the better performances Ange Postecoglou’s side have put in this campaign.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Tom Rogic and Kyogo Furuhashi were in inspired form that night. The Premier Sports Cup Final saw Hibernian frustrate Celtic, putting themselves ahead before sparking a Kyogo-led reaction. In January, it was Maeda and Juranovic. Celtic certainly have the tools to see ourselves past Maloney’s side.

The trick will be disrupting Hibernian’s flow. With such a focus on keeping the ball, Ange’s press is going to have to be utilised to its optimum. And with some strong words presumably ringing in the Bhoys squad’s ears after last night, and a good record following European disappointments, momentum remains with us.

What’s most important after nights like last night is the reaction. Maloney and Hibs offer a specific test. We know how to play against them, we know how to beat them, but we also know how improved they are at keeping the ball.

It’s an important one – they all are – and the reaction from Ange and the Bhoys will be crucial.

Read more: European losses frustrate but Celtic boss Postecoglou has still done remarkable job