The recent Celtic substitute who now looks set for Hampden starting XI spot

By David Walton

April 11, 2022

When it comes to the starting XI for Celtic at Hampden on Sunday, it looks as though Liel Abada is set to make his return.

Abada has had to deal with a substitute’s role in recent weeks at Parkhead. This has been due to the form of Daizen Maeda on the left and Jota on the right. Opportunities to break into the starting XI have been a touch more limited than they were earlier in the campaign.

Even still, it says a lot about Abada that he’s still been making an impact. He was a livewire against Rangers last week for the final 15 minutes before ending an 8-game barren run in front of goal against St Johnstone on Saturday.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Unfortunately, the game was marred by an unfortunate injury for Giorgos Giakoumakis. Ange stated after the game that he was hopeful Giak would be available for the run-in. As for next week, however, it looks unlikely if he felt his hamstring.

The manager was also quick to cast real doubt over whether Kyogo would start on Sunday despite producing an impressive 20-minute cameo against the Saints. Given he’s just back, Ange said that he likely won’t be involved from the start [The Scotsman].

That means that Maeda, who netted after moving to centre-forward on Saturday, will likely be given the role of the lone striker. That then leaves a gap over on the left flank that Jota will likely take. This would leave the right-wing spot open for Abada to slot in nicely.

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Liel Abada caused Rangers nightmares at Celtic Park

Abada has already shown he has the capability to hurt Rangers badly at Hampden this weekend. Look at the impact he’s made in all 3 derby matches so far this season.

At Ibrox back in August, he cut the Rangers defence open with a superb through ball that led to Odsonne Edouard’s sitter. Fast forward 6 months and he was giving Borna Barisic nightmares in a goalscoring display that ended in a 3-0 rout.

Even last week, Abada could’ve ended the derby with a brace with the opportunities he managed to create for himself. He’s a player Rangers have struggled to control this season, and will likely give them plenty of fear if he starts on Sunday.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Abada’s last start for the club came back in early March in the 2-0 win over St Mirren. Since then, he’s started on the bench for each of our last 4 league matches. He didn’t even make the squad for the 3-0 win at Tannadice in the Scottish Cup either.

He’s more than earned another shot at Rangers this weekend. And if it’s true that both Giakoumakis and Kyogo miss out on starting spots, then a gap should open up for Abada to come into the side.

Not the news Barisic will have wanted to hear.

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