Celtic fans should be excited by the decision the manager has taken today in relation to our central midfield. Haksabanovic starts as a central attacker alongside Hatate. O’Riley starts too. Which means that something I said, in an off-hand way, a few weeks ago has come sharply into focus for the manager and he intends to try it out.
Matt O’Riley is a Callum McGregor style midfield general. I’ve thought since watching him for the first time that aside from offering us a great attacking range that he was perfectly capable of playing the defensive midfield role. He is physically strong, aggressive and tough enough to do it. This is an excellent twist from the manager.
Abildgaard is not quite up to speed yet. He’s not played much and needs a bit of time to settle in and get fit. This is an elegant and thoughtful solution to the Callum McGregor problem and it means that we are getting a look at Haksabanovic at the same time.
The other surprises today; Ralston in for Juranovic, Taylor out for Bernabei and Giakoumakis starting up front instead of Kyogo. Abada also starts instead of Maeda, so that’s quite a few changes but good ones, changes which give us a strong looking side.
We have both Kyogo and Maeda available to come off the bench, alongside Forrest. The range of options comes more into focus when we look at the depth. It is a hard blow to lose your captain but we do have enough about us to overcome it.
I don’t know about you, but I’m excited about that team today. I think it’s an interesting selection and the manager has made an excellent decision in playing O’Riley as the anchor. He has proved himself a leader on the pitch and like Callum can obviously play in multiple roles. I think he’s a very good choice, and I think we’ll see that.
Celtic: Hart, Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Welsh, Bernabei, Hakšabanovi?, Hatate, O’Riley, Jota, Abada, Giakoumakis.
Subs: Siegrist, Bain , Kyogo, Abildgaard, Mooy, McCarthy, Maeda, Juranovic, Forrest.