The interesting new role Celtic star Juranovic looks set to play for Croatia

By Euan Davidson

March 22, 2022

Celtic star Josip Juranovic was already an established Croatia international long before he came to Glasgow.

That was part of the right-back’s major appeal. Having been linked with “project” signings to fill a significant void for Celtic, signing a 26-year-old Croatia international seemed like a real change of pace. Needless to say, it’s worked, and the fans sing his name to a Pitbull song.

With Croatia, Juranovic has muscled out Atletico Madrid man Sime Vrsajlko in Zlatko Dalic’s set-up. However, the Croatia manager – according to Sportske Novosti – is changing the team’s shape to a 3-5-2.

Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images

The same outlet also reported yesterday that Dalic was set to use every player he called up, including Josip Juranovic, with Sportske Novosti predicting Juranovic would start on the right of a midfield 5.

This is interesting for a number of reasons. The first of those is that Josip Juranovic is just perpetually fascinating.

Secondly, it’s a great opportunity for the Celtic right-back, and it plays to his strengths. In a 3-5-2, real energy is needed from the wide players. Juranovic has that in abundance. Wingers are relied upon for both defensive and attacking nous; we’ve seen plenty of that from the Croatian international.

That, and crosses. Lots of crosses. Beyond what Juranovic can do in one or two games against Croatia, though, it surely also gives Ange Postecoglou pause for thought.

Though he’s very much a proponent of an attacking 4-3-3, he’s signed players with excellent adaptability and work ethic. Juranovic is one of many players who has the flexibility to give Ange different options with his Celtic team.

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Juranovic and his role for Croatia is only a positive for Celtic

While having Juranovic affirm himself as the Croatia right-back might seem the more obvious positive in any national team situation, it’s more complex than that.

International and club form tend to mix. If Juranovic can play further up the pitch, while keeping his flank quiet from a defensive point of view, it helps Celtic. With the Hoops’ natural tendencies to sit full-backs either high up, or in more central positions, it’s just more positional flexibility.

Given that Croatia are one of the top-ranked nations in world football [FIFA], having a player from that set-up is inherently a good thing.

Photo by Jurij Kodrun/Getty Images

For Ange Postecoglou, it’s at the very least an interesting thought experiment. He’s dabbled with a back-three during his time as Australia manager. It worked pretty well.

You wouldn’t change a thing about Celtic tactically at the moment. However, for different challenges, different solutions might be required. No doubt, it wouldn’t take this Celtic side long to adjust to a different formation, and for an obsessive planner like Ange Postecoglou, being able to switch things up when required has to be something he’s thought about.

The talent is undoubtedly there. There are tantalising options for a duo up front – seeing Kyogo and Giakoumakis click would be deadly.

And while Ange doesn’t need to change anything, he’ll be watching this international break with interest. Undoubtedly, he’ll have his eye on how Juranovic gets on with Croatia.

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