Giakoumakis Or Kyogo? The Dream Scenario Is That The Celtic Manager Unleashes Both.

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One of the great moments of pleasure I got from being on the Endless Celts podcast at the end of last week was when we all got to pick our starting eleven for Ibrox.

Based on the idea that everyone was fit and the boss has a full squad to select from.

My own team was thus; Hart, Ralston, Carter Vickers, Starfelt, Juranovic, McGregor, Hatate, O’Riley, Kyogo, Giakoumakis and Abada.

The controversy came from my choosing Ralston and Juranovic both.

I like Greg Taylor but I would have these two battlers in my team ahead of him, and although you don’t get the best of our Croatian boy on the right he’s still pretty damned solid and solid is what we’re looking for going into this game.

The interesting thing is that there were four of us on the show, and all of us picked a different team.

What a tribute to the squad Ange has built.

When did we last go to Ibrox with so much debate about who should be in the starting eleven?

Usually, by this point, we can all generally agree on what the best possible team is … this time we’re so flush with options that we’re debating it happily, each of us fully confident that the players we pick can get it done.

It was interesting in the debate that flowed around that selection that most all of us chose to go with the big Greek up front. The player, let’s not forget, who Barry Ferguson thinks their defenders will be keenest to play against. Idiot.

There are two strands to this; first that Giakoumakis has earned the place and proved that he can handle it, and the second that Kyogo won’t be fully match fit when the game comes, even if he’s fit enough to be in the running.

Yet with a guarantee of Kyogo firing on all cylinders, I wonder if a lot of people haven’t pegged the Greek as the better bet.

Not the better player; there is no doubt that is our Japanese Bhoy.

Just the better option in this particular instance, against this particular opponent.

The Greek terrorised them at Celtic Park. There is little doubt that he’d give them nightmares.

All of us, I think, are tantalised by what we don’t know though, which is how would Kyogo fare against them, starting through the middle, with the whole game to pull their defence this way and that? They won’t have a counter for him because they’ve not seen him do it for long enough … as a wildcard selection, it’s one we can have confidence in.

People say we lose a little having him play out wide, but the team wasn’t fully gelled and the plan not fully settled the last time he tried it at Ibrox, and his partner that day was Edouard who turned in a lazy, uninterested display as he already had one foot out the door.

The Kyogo-Giakoumakis partnership has also been tried, but a time when both players were still effectively finding their feet and the team was trying to find its rhythm.

Since then the big Greek has started banging in the goals, and he’s linked up brilliantly with everyone who’s played on the flanks alongside him; Forrest, Johnston, Abada, Jota and Maeda.

So his link up play is excellent, and you can imagine how good it would be if he and Kyogo could form a proven partnership.

That’s the really tantalising prospect. If the manager can find a way to get them both in the team at the same time … well, that could be special, based on what we’ve seen from them individually when at their best.

Frankly, I don’t think their defence would have any answer to that at all.

Which is why my perfect team has both of them in the line-up.

What’s interesting is, in fielding Maeda out wide and partnering both of them up, you can see Ange has something similar in his own mind. That leaves only the decision about whether Jota or Abada gets the other starting slot.

(Of course, the truly wild idea would be for Ange to play Kyogo wide right and Maeda wide left. I don’t think we’ll see that … but you just never know what the boss is thinking and if he did it I would not be totally surprised.)

This time next week we’ll know.

We’ll know the starting team and a whole lot more besides.

I cannot wait for it to be honest with you, and I think we’re in good shape no matter how the team lines up on the day.

That’s another first heading into a game at Ibrox.

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  • SSMPM says:

    I read your article the other day and thought exactly the same, I’d have both up front. No Jota in the team?

  • Finbar muldoon says:

    Said ages ago 3-4-3. Hart, CCV, Julien, Starfelt. Hatate, McGregor, O’Riley. Jota, Giakoumakis, Kyogo. (Maeda). Tear them a new wan. HH

  • Finbar muldoon says:

    Juranovic behind Jota.

  • Tom Foolery says:

    We already tried playing Kyogo wide. Any time we have done that he has been like a man short. So no. Either Kyogo plays through the middle or not at all…we can afford no passengers in this game.

    Personally i’d go Juranovic and Taylor and if he’s fit i’d go Forest and Jota with Abada through the middle. I honestly think Abada’s pace would terrify them. For midfield i’d go CalMac, Hatate and Rogic if fit.

  • Jimmy says:

    Disagree on a number of points. Juranovic kept Kent quiet so needs to play in his natural position. Play players in their correct positions. Got to play Jota, creativity will pick their mediocre back line apart. Totally disagree with your Kyogo out wide. Been tried before and he didn’t have the impact he has had through the middle. Through the middle always for me.

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