Celtic second-half substitute we could see more of in Jota's absence

By Lewis Laird

October 12, 2022

It has been quite the week for Celtic full-back Alexandro Bernabei, who went on to make his first Champions League appearance for the Bhoys last night.

Following his arrival in the summer transfer window, the Argentinian has found minutes hard to come by under Ange Postecoglou.

That is due to the brilliant form of Greg Taylor, who has arguably been one of the Hoops’ stand-out and most consistent performers in the side.

Photo by Mateusz Slodkowski/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

However, Bernabei was given the chance to shine against St Johnstone, and he left sections of the Celtic support impressed with what he had to offer.

The former Lanus man also played his part in the dramatic victory in Perth, delivering the cross for Giorgos Giakoumakis’ late winner.

After a strong showing and a first Premiership start last Saturday, the 22-year-old then went on to make his first appearance in the Champions League on Tuesday evening.

Bernabei has featured on the bench in each of the Bhoys’ previous group-stage outings this season but was yet to pick up any minutes in the prestigious competition.

After 80 minutes in the 2-0 defeat against RB Leipzig, the full-back was introduced to the game, replacing Daizen Maeda for the final moments.

Of course, by trade, Celtic’s number 25 is a left-back. However, he was deployed as a left-winger for the final 10 minutes of the game.

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Could we see Bernabei utilised at left-wing more often in Jota’s absence?

Although being played further upfield is a more unfamiliar role for Bernabei, it is a position he has played on several occasions for his former club. So, he does have that previous experience.

Currently, Celtic are without Jota, who missed last night’s group stage game and is expected to miss this weekend’s return to league action against Hibernian.

The Hoops do have plenty of options within the squad, with the left-hand side being the natural positions of both Daizen Maeda and Sead Haksabanovic.

However, in the last two games, Ange Postecoglou has made the decision to play Haksabanovic more centrally, meaning by default, Maeda would take up the left winger role in Jota’s absence.

As supporters are well aware by now, the high demands that come with the 57-year-old’s system means that substitutions are key in the game. Particularly for players with a skillset like Maeda’s.

Photo by PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images

So, with his current injury issues in the squad, the Celtic boss finds himself having to rejig a few things, and on Tuesday, that included playing Bernabei on the left.

It should certainly be interesting to see if that is a move Postecoglou turns to more regularly, including this weekend, or for a longer period, depending on the length of Jota’s absence.

Bernabei definitely has all the right attributes to be a solid performing left winger, as he showcased with his pace and crossing ability against St Johnstone.

It could prove to be an intriguing change the former Socceroos boss may look to make in order to change things up, which also means he can keep an influential player like Greg Taylor on the pitch.

In other news, One Celtic player showed his versatility out of position last night; it could prove important.