The tactical tweak that will work wonders for Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou

By Euan Davidson

August 6, 2021

If you were watching Celtic last night, and chances are you were, you’ll have noticed something encouraging from Ange Postecoglou and his team.

Some have, rightly, been concerned with the lack of height in this Bhoys team. On commentary duty last night, Liam McLeod and Charlie Mulgrew discussed how vertically-challenged this Celtic team is [BBC].

That being the case, a different approach is required. It was probably required last year, too. While Odsonne Edouard still ended up scoring 22 goals, the Bhoys lacked a presence to attack the ball in the air. More often than not, attempts at crosses either missed the mark, or came to nothing in some other, equally frustrating way.

So, recognising that, Ange Postecoglou has tweaked his front three, and it’s worked a treat. Look at the first goal from last night, for an example [Celtic Twitter].

James Forrest and Greg Taylor pass the ball back and forth to create space and stretch Jablonec’s defence, with midfielders and other attackers crowding the 18-yard area.

A low cross comes in for Liel Abada around the penalty spot. Fine, he needs a second go at it, but it works. Instead of a lofted ball, with nobody near the 6-yard line, the cross is played low and ends up with Abada getting on the scoresheet.

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It was tried time and again, to decent effect. Abada could’ve had a second only slightly further into the box. Furuhashi, excellent on the night, made a decoy run, allowing Abada to receive the ball. His shot was just wide, but it’s a warning.

From the other side, Abada and a right-back (Ralston again last night) can repeat the trick. James Forrest, an accomplished finisher, has little issue converting from in close. With Furuhashi misleading defenders, the Scottish winger can get his glut of opportunities.

Necessity breeds innovation for Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou

It won’t work for every game. However, it’s an encouraging sign. Last night, we spoke about the important of breaching a low block, something we’ll face plenty in the Scottish Premiership.

With a tactician like Ange Postecoglou at Celtic, we’re seeing a real difference in ideas. Instead of passing the ball around the box and hoping for a defender to switch off, there’s more directness. An actual plan, if you will.

Not that passing side to side and working an opening is a bad thing, of course. It’s just – particularly with the defence we have – we need to be aggressively attempting to outscore opposition. This is one way to do it.

It sounds pretty obvious, but utilising the speed of our wingers, bringing them into central positions to disrupt defences, will pay dividends. Think back to last season, and how frustrating it could be watching Celtic repeat the same tricks to no avail.

Our wingers predominantly stayed wide, with Christie or Turnbull patrolling the edge of the box. Fine, sometimes it yielded screamers, but Edouard was left with too much to do.

Having more modern inverted or inside forwards to grab chances, with a centre-forward who can effortlessly drag defenders out of position, seems like the sensible move here. With Kyogo Furuhashi, it will work. Even Albian Ajeti or Leigh Griffiths, and their ability to lose markers, could yield opportunities for others, if not a barrel-load of strikes for themselves.

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou needs more players in. However, this is a good way of using what he has to optimal effect.

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