4 key components Ange Postecoglou and Celtic need for Cup Final success

By Euan Davidson

December 18, 2021

In case you somehow missed it, Celtic are headed to their first Cup Final under Ange Postecoglou tomorrow, in the Premier Sports Cup.

The League Cup is sometimes seen as a lesser competition, a bonus; something that doesn’t make or break a season, but a nice accomplishment nonetheless. It’s different for Celtic supporters, though. Every Cup Final is a chance for a party, and a means to applaud our heroes on the pitch. It’s a big deal.

Especially because of Celtic’s utter domestic dominance in recent years. Until last season, Celtic had green and white ribbons around the League Cup for 5 of the last 7 campaigns.

Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

If anything, there’s an extra incentive this time round. Supporters love Ange Postecoglou, and are desperate to see him lift a cup within the first half a season in the Celtic dugout. Not only that, there are players old and new who haven’t lifted silverware in Scotland yet.

We need to actually win the game though. So, how do Ange Postecoglou and Celtic go about navigating their first Cup Final together?

Here are some ideas:

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Celtic can’t give Hibernian a second to settle

Despite their woes of late, losing their manager and everything, Hibernian still carry a number of threats, one in particular who we’ll get onto shortly.

They’ve got some talent in that team, and the ability to dominate matches where necessary. Or, failing that, at least hit teams on the counter with devastating effect. Yes, they’ve been in dreadful form, but ignoring the weapons Hibs have is a folly.

So, the intensity we saw at Easter Road is a must. It sounds obvious, but starting the game with the kind of urgency we saw against Hibs last time, and against Real Betis at Celtic Park, prevents Hibs from getting a foothold in such an important game.

There are the clichés: an early goal would settle the nerves, and so on. But with Ange Postecoglou’s approach, and how stretched the squad is at the moment, the first 10-15 minutes are going to be absolutely crucial tomorrow.

Don’t let Hibs get into the game from the first whistle. With their ability to counter, and the goal threats they have, that’s going to be imperative.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The Turnbull-Rogic partnership will be key

Luckily, when Celtic faced Hibernian at Easter Road, much of the damage was done by the time Tom Rogic had to be taken off.

What a shame that was, because up until then, Rogic and David Turnbull were having an absolute party in the middle of the park against Hibs. The Hibees couldn’t get near either of them.

The duo combined for 6 shots on goal, 42 passes and 64 touches, almost all progressive and in dangerous areas [WhoScored?]. Turnbull provided 2 assists from set-pieces, with Rogic’s technique winning fouls in profitable parts of the pitch.

There was justifiable doubt that the two could work in tandem. That night was when those doubts were utterly, emphatically eradicated.

With both surely fit and ready for inclusion tomorrow, and Callum McGregor pulling the strings further back, there’s a definite recipe for success there.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Extra Celtic attention for Hibernian danger man in Cup Final

It would be somewhat ironic if a Socceroo prevented Ange Postecoglou from winning a trophy tomorrow. Yet, Martin Boyle has shown his importance to the Hibees this season. He’ll want to prove a point for former manager Jack Ross, having expressed dismay at Ross’ sacking earlier this week.

Celtic have, admittedly, been defensively excellent in recent weeks. What was seen as the worst part of the Bhoys’ game is amongst the best, having conceded a mere 11 goals in the league so far [BBC].

Boyle, though, represents a real threat. Especially at Hampden. The Australian scored a superb hat-trick to dump Rangers out of the Premier Sports Cup [Guardian], and he’ll have no intention of stopping there.

Whether Celtic go with Greg Taylor or Liam Scales, the Bhoys’ left back will have a job to do. The last time Celtic played Hibs, it was Boyle who came away with their consolation.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Celtic need to follow captain’s Cup Final advice against Hibernian

He’s like me and you, he loves Celtic too; except Callum McGregor has a captain’s armband and will be dictating things for the Hoops in a Cup Final tomorrow.

His message before the game? The worst thing the Hoops can do is overthink things. And he’s bang on.

Yes, it’s a big Cup Final at Hampden, Ange Postecoglou’s first as Celtic manager. But consistency is what Celtic need here. The form is with them, the tactics are with them and there’s no reason why The Bhyos can’t repeat what they’ve already done against Hibs.

We hear “play the game, not the occasion” a lot, and it’s absolutely true. Fine, it’s up there with “we take one game at a time” in the list of dull things to say about football, but in this case it’s exactly what needs to be said.

Celtic are going great guns of late. We haven’t lost domestically since the 19th of September, and have shown real grit and resolve over recent games amidst a breathtaking streak of injuries.

What’s key is taking the energy and momentum from Wednesday night, ignoring the wider consequences of the game and simply playing their brand of winning football at Hampden tomorrow.

The rest will follow.

Read more: Ange Postecoglou speaks on his Celtic “privilege”; the boss gets it

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