Notable Tomoki Iwata finding from Celtic derby win; could be important for the future

By Hamish Carton

April 13, 2023

Tomoki Iwata put in another strong display from the bench in Celtic’s win over Rangers on Saturday.

The Japanese midfielder was introduced to the action after an hour, replacing an out-of-sorts Aaron Mooy.

Iwata immediately brought some composure to the Hoops midfield and helped us over the line to a massive three points.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

It was the 26-year-olds ninth Celtic appearance, with his only start coming in the recent win at Ross County.

In that Dingwall encounter Iwata had played as the deeper of the three midfielders, with Callum McGregor moving to one of the more advanced roles.

It was, therefore, notable to see that him come on in that more advanced role on Saturday with McGregor remaining as the number six.

Iwata was impressive in the County win but it was noticeable that McGregor’s influence on the match was reduced as a result of him playing further forward.

The skipper is so important to how we play, given his ability to spread the play from side to side, and drive the team forward.

Iwata is yet to reach those levels, and may never given McGregor’s undoubted class, but he still has a big part to play.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

In this writer’s opinion, a midfield three of McGregor, Iwata and Reo Hatate could be the key to better results in the Champions League next season.

It could well be important for the future of this team under Ange.

At the very least, Saturday’s involvement proves that Iwata can play well in that number eight role with McGregor still able to function in his best position.

It’s going to be one to keep an eye on from now until the end of the season and beyond.

In other news, Iwata’s compatriot Kyogo Furuhashi has been named in the EA Sports FIFA 23 Team of the Week