By the time they cross the white line on Sunday afternoon, Celtic will have rested for 8 days. Kyogo had a few heavy training sessions early in the week and will be fitter, Giorgos Giakoumakis has iced his delicate limb. The entire squad has rested in preparation for Hampden, a stadium, which incredibly, over many years, has provided Celtic with a higher win rate that the Paradise itself.
I didn’t get everything I wanted from this week’s European ties, but extra time at Ibrox was top of my list. The script is written, althogh, you and I both know football is full of adlib moments. Scripts give you a sense of what to expect, the punchlines often come from an inspired creator rising to the occasion. We can take nothing for granted, this will be a battle.
On our last visit to Hampden, Ange Postecoglou considered the League Cup Final important enough to start Kyogo, who pulled a hamstring 10 days earlier. The decision proved pivotal, as our Japanese striker scored two to transform a deficit into a win. The manager’s wisdom was called into question a week later, when the same player exacerbated his injury, leading to a three-month layoff.
With a glance at the trophy cabinet, Ange might consider his instincts were right regarding Kyogo. If so, Giakoumakis is likely to start. Those three months, however, gave Ange time to ruminate. I expect the Greek to start on the bench.
Patience will be required. The game could last 120 minutes, if so, substitute decisions will be important. Oh, and please, tomorrow, practice from 12 yards……….