Celtic boss Ange will be champing at the bit after vulnerable rivals show their flaws

By Euan Davidson

January 19, 2022

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou has always insisted it’s not about what Rangers do, it’s about the House of Celtic and not looking at our neighbours.

All fine and well, but he’s a smart manager. And smart football managers tend to notice when league rivals show significant weaknesses. Last night will surely have been welcome viewing for Postecoglou, as well as new hire Antoine Ortega, who has the keys when it comes to opposition analysis.

Ortega and the rest of the scouting team will have plenty to look at. Rangers were poor. Against an Aberdeen side who have been lacking in consistency this season, van Bronckhorst’s side were lucky to avoid defeat. The Dons finished with 54% possession, and an xG of 1.38 to Rangers’ 0.91 [Fotmob].

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

In simpler terms; Aberdeen had more of the ball, and looked more threatening with it.

That’s not all. Glass’ side passed them off the park. They connected on 120 more passes than our fierce rivals, forcing Rangers into acts of frustration. Rangers conceded a whopping 21 fouls.

The lack of discipline was showing. Ryan Kent was sent off, while key men like Hagi, Morelos and Tavernier also saw bookings. Even with cards aside, it’s telling what can happen when Rangers aren’t in possession, and how desperate they can get, especially later on in matches.

Aberdeen controlled this one. They were particularly effective on the right-hand side, with 41% of the Dons’ attacks coming down that flank [WhoScored?]. Calvin Ramsay’s performance, for example, should be something for Josip Juranovic to consider, given the Scottish youngster’s commanding display.

Those are the raw facts, so what can Celtic and Ange Postecoglou do to beat Rangers, based on what we saw last night?

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How Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou can plot a vital win against Rangers

Pace and possession are the buzzwords, here.

Rangers just didn’t really know what to do when Aberdeen had so much of the ball. Again, that caused van Bronckhorst’s side problems, conceding the aforementioned glut of fouls. It was telling that a penalty squared things up at Pittodrie.

How does this apply for Celtic and Ange Postecoglou? Well, it’s great actually; Celtic just need to do what they normally do. Dominate possession, look for quick breaks, or frustrate the life out of Rangers by forcing opportunities around the box. Keeping the ball will be absolutely integral.

Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

As will set-pieces. Rangers conceded a lot of their fouls in dangerous areas, the penalty notwithstanding. It’s unlikely we’ll see Turnbull recover in time for the 2nd of February, but Juranovic and co will need to step up and whip dangerous deliveries for the Celtic attack. The speed on our flanks will be crucial in winning fouls and making up ground in the opposition half.

So, taking advantage of ill-discipline, set-pieces and keeping the ball. What else can Celtic do?

Stuff the midfield. Scott Brown, for all of his hilarious antics, was vital alongside Lewis Ferguson. Looking at their touch map [via WhoScored?], the duo had the majority of their touches in central areas, which is to be expected. But they were also causing issues and overlaps by drifting wider and attempting to win the ball back high up.

If that tactic sounds familiar, it should. And although it was only a point, Aberdeen were the better team. Postecoglou will be aware of that midfield battle, and while we don’t know for certain who’ll constitute our middle three against Rangers, their agenda should be clear. Harass, harry and bother at every opportunity.

The opportunity is there for Celtic to put more pressure on rivals

Fine, it’s one game. But it was an extremely telling performance. With the tactician we have in Ange Postecoglou, and the improved data analytics at the club, there’ll be far more in-depth analysis available to Celtic than this article.

But where Celtic can damage Rangers is obvious.

It’d be foolish to write off our rivals after one dodgy night, but there are tactical trends that Ange Postecoglou can definitely take advantage of. The significance of the derby in two weeks’ time is enormous, and recent Celtic form should be enough encouragement.

Photo by Scott Baxter/Getty Images

Last night showed exactly how Rangers can be got at in the Scottish Premiership.

Celtic will undoubtedly have been paying attention.

Read more: Michael Stewart lauds Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic progress; tips them to pile pressure on rivals