Improving Celtic defender set for crucial role of stopping familiar on-form Shakhtar man

By Lewis Laird

September 14, 2022

Celtic defender Greg Taylor could be set for a crucial role in tonight’s Champions League group stage game against Shakhtar Donetsk.

The 24-year-old has had a brilliant start to the 2022/23 campaign, building upon a strong end to his first season working under Ange Postecoglou.

The former Socceroos boss has developed Taylor into a solid full-back, deploying the Scotland internationalist in an inverted role.

Photo by Silvestre Szpylma/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Last week, all of Taylor’s hard-word across the past 12 months was rewarded, as he made his debut in the UEFA Champions League against Real Madrid.

Once again, the Celtic defender put in a really good display in what ended up being a disappointing night for the Hoops against the European champions.

After showing he can put in those levels in the world’s most prestigious club competition, it is now up to the former Kilmarnock man to continue his impressive development and do so on a weekly basis in the Champions League this season.

Over a week on from the fixture against Real Madrid, the left-back returns to European action, with the Bhoys getting the quick opportunity to get their first points on the board in Group F.

As a regular in Ange Postecoglou’s starting 11, Taylor is expected to continue as part of the back four, alongside Josip Juranovic, Moritz Jenz and Cameron Carter-Vickers.

And he could have a crucial role to play if Celtic want to succeed and came away with points from Poland.

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Tonight, Taylor is likely to be up against one of Shakhtar Donetsk’s most in-form attacking players, who just happens to be a former Parkhead teammate.

Of course, that man is Marian Shved.

The Ukrainian returned to his homeland this summer, following a spell in Belgium with KV Mechelen, who were the side that took the winger off Celtic’s hands.

Shved has made a strong start to life at Shakhtar, scoring three goals in his first two starts for the club, including a double in their 4-1 win over RB Leipzig last week.

The winger will be out to continue that great run of form, and there is no doubting he will be hungry to show the Hoops why we were wrong not to give him a chance during his short stay at Parkhead.

After the group stage draw was conducted, many joked that Shved may come back to bite us. And although it was never going to work out for the Ukrainian internationalist at Parkhead, he will be out to showcase his quality.

Photo by Silvestre Szpylma/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

With Shved expected to start from the right wing, it will be up to Taylor to shut down any threat that the 25-year-old frontman will attempt to pose Celtic.

After his great start to the new campaign, I am sure the full-back will be confident going into the game of getting the better of his former teammate, from both an attacking and defensive standpoint.

Shakhtar are going to pose threats from all over the pitch. But with the form Shved is on and his previous connection to the club, he could be one of the home side’s key men this evening.

So, if we are going to come away with some success from tonight’s group stage tie, Greg Taylor could have a crucial role to play in stopping the wide man.

In other news, Giorgos Giakoumakis details the Real Madrid advantage Celtic will be looking to put to good use.