Celtic will face Rangers in one of the most important Glasgow derbies in a long time when club football resumes after the international break. For the first time in nearly a decade, the Premiership title race appears to be going down to the wire, and the two remaining league games between the two sides could very well decide the fate of the trophy.
Both teams are currently in good shape. While Celtic have excelled in domestic competitions, the Rangers have had a successful season in Europe, even defeating Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League knockout stage.
Here are the three Celtic players who will be very important when the Hoops face the Rangers at Ibrox in one of the most important Glasgow Derbies in years.
Giakoumakis has scored 12 goals in 22 games for Celtic in all competitions. This is brilliant, keeping in mind that the striker failed to get any playing time at the start of the season due to injuries. However, later in December, Celtic’s first-choice striker, Kyogo Furuhashi, was injured. That was when manager, Ange Postecoglou, turned to Giakoumakis to feature as their number nine.
The above visual shows us the attacking and creativity stats for Giakoumakis from his 14 appearances in the Premiership. He has scored eight goals so far in the league and scored another four in the Scottish Cup. His stats indicate that he has had decent performances in the limited playing time that he has got this season. Most of his stats are significantly higher than the league median value. He ranks highly for xG per 90, shots per 90, and also shots on target. He has attempted 3.505 shots per 90 minutes and has been able to keep 55% of his shots on target. He can be a very strong figure in the opposition box. Giakoumakis is in brilliant form, and it is unlikely that Postecoglou will bench him to play Kyogo Furuhashi if he is declared fit for the Rangers game.
The above visual shows us the passing and progression stats for Hatate from his 11 appearances for Celtic. He has three goals and two assists so far. His metrics indicate that his stats are significantly higher than the league median value. He has attempted 53.52 passes per 90 minutes and has a pass success rate of 78.40. This is brilliant, considering most of his passes are in the final third. He has played 17.05 forward passes per 90 minutes and averages 2.62 smart passes per game.
Hatate had one of the best Glasgow Derby debuts earlier this year, scoring twice and assisting the other in Celtic’s 3-0 win over Rangers at Parkhead. It was a huge performance from the Japanese star, and it put Celtic in control of the Scottish Premiership title race. Hatate has had ups and downs at Celtic since then. His start at the club was nothing short of spectacular. However, some of his recent performances have left a lot of room for improvement.
Starfelt might have had a difficult start to his Celtic career, but since the Hoops signed Cameron Carter-Vickers, the duo has formed a solid defensive partnership. In matches that Starfelt has played in this season, the Celtic defense has kept 20 clean sheets. That is in 40 appearances for the Bhoys, so in half the games that the 26-year-old has played for Celtic, the Hoops haven’t conceded a goal. Starfelt has attempted 10.10 defensive actions per 90 minutes and has completed 81.68% of these actions. He lies in the 96th percentile for the number of recoveries he has completed per 90 minutes.
Starfelt features on the left of the two centre-back and has done well to win the ball back for his team from various duels on the left side of the pitch. Most of his duels on the left side are 50-50 and aerial duels. He has won 60% of these duels, and he successfully recovers possession of the ball. Starfelt is also a huge presence in the opposition’s penalty area from set-piece situations as he has won several aerial duels in the box. Starfelt is an excellent defender to have in your team. But at the same time, there are times when he does appear to struggle. Thus, it will depend on what version of Starfelt shows up against the Rangers. If he is at his best, then Celtic will have a great chance of getting a win here.