The reality of the big Glasgow derby debate many Celtic supporters are having
After Sunday’s goalscoring return to the starting XI for Kyogo Furuhashi, the debate over who starts for Celtic against Rangers this Sunday was always going to be something that rumbled on.
Giorgos Giakoumakis started on the bench in Dingwall but made an impression after coming on as a late sub. During Kyogo’s injury absence, meanwhile, Giak started in both of our wins against Rangers this season. Despite not scoring in either match, his physical prowess was key in unsettling the Ibrox backline.
Therefore, as Kyogo, who remains our number 1 striker outright, gets back to full fitness, this was always going to be a talking point this week. Do we stick with a striker we know can get behind the Rangers defence? Or do we go with our physical option who’s already bullied them twice?
The reality is that both will have a major part to play on Sunday. Whoever is on the bench will likely still come on with a large chunk of the game remaining. Regardless of the score. The question of course is who that will be.
Ange didn’t start Kyogo in Dingwall for a laugh. He’ll have wanted to get a good look at him in action ahead of next weekend. And it’s fair to say he proved to be a total menace in the Highlands.
Not only did he score with a fantastic towering header, he also managed to net another that was wrongly flagged for offside. Not to mention he got himself into another good area but missed the one-v-one opportunity. On another day, we’re talking about a hat-trick, and he certainly proved his point to the manager.
Kyogo remains Celtic’s number 1 striker – he’s primed to start next weekend
I’ve been the first to champion Giakoumakis getting opportunities when he deserves it. When debate was roaring over who should start at Ibrox at the start of the month, we made the point that Giakoumakis had more than earned it regardless of whether Kyogo was fit or not.
However, the big Greek hasn’t started a game for the Hoops since the 7-0 win over St Johnstone over a fortnight ago. The game in which he picked up the injury that ruled him out of the Scottish Cup semi-final.
If Giakoumakis was going to win the spot ahead of Kyogo, it was going to be because he was looking sharper and was on a run of goalscoring form. But his momentum has been broken up and the Japanese international was extremely impressive in the Highlands. Given he’s our best player, it’ll almost certainly be he who starts.
But it’s not a case of either/or when it comes to who will make an impact. Both will be given big roles to play regardless of who starts. Giakoumakis will prove to be an extremely productive impact sub against tired legs. Someone who’ll be able to keep Celtic up the pitch with his hold-up play at a vital stage in the game.
Yet the fact is that Kyogo is Celtic’s first choice. He’s fit and ready to go. Ange will surely choose him to start on Sunday regardless of the support Giakoumakis has in being given the jersey.
It’s a team game at Celtic though. The big Greek forward will know his role well in advance of kick-off, and we have no doubt he’ll make a big impact whenever Ange decides to bring him on. We need both strikers on top of their game this weekend. If they are, Rangers are in trouble.