Wings, engine room, set plays, getting over the line


Daizen Maeda has not started a game since scoring in the first minute at Ibrox five weeks ago.  His return to action for the last 20 minutes against Hearts last week is surely not enough to see him through 90 minutes tomorrow.

Ahead of that Ibrox game I suggested Callum McGregor’s natural fitness would be enough to make him a starter.  This confidence was misplaced, even Callum needs time to reach peak fitness, the same is true of Daizen.  How to use the player is Brendan Rodgers’ first big decision.

James Forrest’s autumn bloom has been enough to see Celtic into the Scottish Cup Final and maintain a three-point lead at the top of the table.  He played almost all of last week’s win over Hearts, the first time this has happened since November, and he got over an hour at Dundee a week earlier.  Neither James nor Daizen are in a great place to start, though.

My feeling is we will get a combined 90 minutes out of these two, it would be too much of a risk to start two players who are short of full match practice.  Daizen correctly gets the plaudits for spooking Record Loser James Tavernier, but James tormented the defender for years before Daizen, so whoever starts will fill the role well.

Nicolas Kuhn will start on the right.  Brendan likes to freshen up both wings; Luis Palma is only trusted on the left and James is better on the right than Daizen.  That being the case, we can expect Daizen to start on the left, replaced by James around at 65 minutes.  Nicolas will be hooked 10 minutes later, James will move right to allow Luis to fill in on the left.

The engine room is what most worries Newco.  They were schooled by Callum McGregor earlier in the season and are keen to smother his play.  How effective this is will depend on movement around Callum.  In particular, Liam Scales.

Newco allow Liam time on the ball (unlike Cameron).  He needs to make those short 20 yard runs into space, with and without the ball, which will give Celtic options when progressing play.

We seem to have missed Reo Hatate all season, from his bizarre absence at the start of the campaign, to his two lengthy injuries since.  A week ago, he was back at his dynamic best.  If Reo brings the same energy tomorrow, it will be a long afternoon for the visitors.

Newco are the away team and I expect they will use this status as permission to play counterattacking football, which they did successfully in Lisbon against Benfica.  Contain McGregor, press from halfway and break quickly down the wings.  It will be a lung-busting afternoon for all four Celtic defenders, but they are each pacy.

Set-piece plays will be important to Newco.  Inside the box, we can expect theatrics (again), but they will be keen to pick up a freekick pretty much anywhere in the Celtic half, which would give them an opportunity to load the box.  Great play in general can be undone by set plays.  This is Newco’s best bet, expect to see them wait for contact from behind and drop like a sack of spuds.

Only two of Newco’s likely starting 11 have won at Celtic Park before, once with and once without fans.  Those two, Tavernier and Barisic, are expected to be abetted in defence by Soutar and Davies.

No one has confidence in this defence, and we should expect them to do little more with the ball than get rid of it as soon as they receive.  Poor Barisic will still be suffering Abadaicitis every time he hears the Celtic Park crowd roar.  Kuhnicitis is a similar condition and the only known cure is to leave Glasgow.

Two of their number: Cantwell and Silva, strike me as poorly disciplined players who are provoked into lashing out when faced with a talent deficit.  We need to let them play their game and not be distracted from our own.  Both are likely to be carded.

There are lots of reasons to be encouraged ahead of this game.  Celtic are a team who know how to get a league race over the line, we are at home and have no need to be anxious for the win.  Crowd sentiment is notoriously fickle everywhere and Newco will hope to get nerves jangling in the opening 20 minutes.  Our support last week was a real inspiration, same again from all, please

Enjoy your day.

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  1. timmy7_noted on

    Up at 5:15 with grandweans. Stomach churning ever since, I hate these games.


    Will be heading into town about 10:30.


    Hopefully celebrations all round by 2:30.

  2. timmy7_noted on

    Congratulations Por Cierto. I have two grandsons now, what an incredible impact they have on your life.

  3. HH from downtown Lisbon.



    Seems like a fitting place to watch us all but win the league.



    Estadio National was incredible. Will post some pics on my return.



    ‘Mon the hoops!

  4. BadaBing prev page



    Powerful stuff WWFC have some great initiatives


    Shared widely




  5. bournesouprecipe on

    Celtic, Celtic that’s the team for me,
Celtic, Celtic on to victory,
They’re the finest team in Scotland, I’m sure you will agree,
We’ll never give up till we’ve won the cup and the Scottish football league.


    They come from bonnie Scotland, they come from county Cork,


    They come from dear old Donegal and even from New York,
From every street in Glasgow they proudly make their way,
To a place called dear old paradise and this is what they say.



    Celtic, Celtic that’s the team for me,


    Celtic, Celtic on to victory,
They’re the finest team in Scotland, I’m sure you will agree,


We’ll never give up till we’ve won the cup and the Scottish football league.


    There’s Fallon, Young and Gemmell who proudly wear the green,


    There’s Clark, McNeill and Kennedy the best there’s ever been,


Jim Johnstone, Murdoch, Chalmers, John Divers and John Hughes,
And sixty thousand Celtic fans who proudly shout the news.



    Celtic, Celtic that’s the team for me,


    Celtic, Celtic on to victory,
They’re the finest team in Scotland, I’m sure you will agree,
We’ll never give up till we’ve won the cup and the Scottish football league



    Repeat to fade CSC

  6. Am I the only one who is wary of all the positivity coming from our Manager,Captain, fans and, unusually, the MSM?


    This morning’s Times has joined in, predicting a 2-0 victory.


    I prefer quiet, understated determination rather than bullish statements. The latter simply encourages the Hun. Tin hat on!


    If we play as we did in the first half at Dundee this could be a tricky fixture.


    If we play as we did against the Minis, we’ll be laughing. (Oops, bullish statement)

  7. BSR at 9:20 a.m.


    I feel much happier with/ confident now that normal service has resumed

  8. POR CIERTO at 6:42


    Wonderful news. Many congratulations


    Bada at 8:32


    Thanks for posting….hope that’s the only tears I shed today


    (Well, apart from tears of joy)


    Much Kudos to Wolves

  9. I’ve had banana to settle my stomach sitting out enjoy the sunshsine before we set off for fun at Paradise 😎& apparently good for hangovers also. I’ve 2 bunches in the kitchen 🤣

  10. ParkheadcumSalford



    Get well soon,bad day to feel poorly



    Hope you make it




  11. leftclicktic on



    Congratulations to all.


    Welcome to the Celtic family wee mhan.


    Hope your are talking about a victory on your birthday in years to come.


    Cmon Celtic

  12. ParkheadcumSalford



    Imodium tabket is your friend today mate and eat eggs and bananas foods that will bind your stomach.

  13. leftclicktic on

    My eldest grandson (14) is of to his 1st Glasgow Derby today.


    He stayed with us last night, I could cry with pride watching him get his top and scarf on for getting picked up at 10.

  14. There are many things that differentiate us from them.


    We are favourites, hitting our best form , beautiful day with a perfect pitch and the backing of sixty thousand fans.


    Yet, there’s just that wee gnawing feeling in your stomach, just enough to keep you in check.


    That feeling of angst is something wouldn’t trouble them given the same circumstances.

  15. onenightinlisbon on

    There’s nothing wrong with having confidence and I think for this game it is totally justified.



    We have the backing of the crowd and the players on the park to virtually wrap up the title.



    Let’s just do the job.

  16. leftclicktic on



    Sorry just realised its a wee granddaughter you have been blessed with.HH

  17. Crystal Palace have French Eddie up for sale.



    He went downhill fast after leaving Celtic, 18 goals in 91 games, he’ll be remember for some quality hunskelping when he was at the Celts.

  18. Jinkyredstar on

    I hate being over confident and I’ll lay odds that their injury stories are fabricated. We are capable of great things but equally we can be indifferent. No over comfy should be allowed to detract from bringing our absolute best game for 100 minutes.

  19. Melvin Udall on

    POR CIERTO on 11TH MAY 2024 6:42 AM




    Congratulations pal! 🍾


    Hopefully the hoops make it a day to remember also. 😃⚽️🍀🍾🏆🇮🇪

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