- Celts Set Sights on Saints Semi
~~~~ Official TC Match Preview ~~~~
Jota in action for the Hoops against St Johnstone, last month
Saturday, 20 November 2021
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Celtic line up on Saturday evening, looking to take another step in reclaiming the League Cup crown - but have a tough St Johnstone side, every bit as determined to defend their Cup success of last season.
The Hoops will be taking to the pitch with a special mark of respect to the recent passing of Lisbon Lion, Bertie Auld, with the Bhoys wearing the '10' that Auld wore on that fateful day in 1967, on their shorts.
It is sure to be an emotional occasion for all in attendance, in paying tribute to one of the most iconic and beloved figures in the club's storied history, whose exploits as a player over two spells with the club on the pitch are as treasured as the memories of the warmth and humour of the man he was, away from it.
Bertie in action against Inter Milan, 25 May 1967
Rest in peace, Bertie. You'll Never Walk Alone.
And what better way to pay tribute than to do what Bertie did so often - Win! Indeed, Celtic won this trophy, 52 years ago this month, in 1969, against St Johnstone, courtesy of a single goal, which was scored by - Bertie Auld.
Celtic will be looking to reclaim the League Cup honours that they have dominated in recent times, with this part of the 4 consecutive treble winning campaigns (and winning 5 of the previous 6 League Cups before last season), and have a very impressive record against the Perth outfit overall in Cup competitions.
However, Callum Davidson's side cannot be underestimated, after they pulled off a sensational Cup double last season, triumphing in both this competition and the Scottish Cup, to complete a very rare feat for any club not based in Glasgow. So, this is a stage they've proven comfortable and successful at, and make no mistake, the big occasion will be unlikely to intimidate the Saints.
Success in this Cup Semi-Final would be the perfect way to kick back into action. Indeed, there are 9 games that Celtic are scheduled to play between now and the date of the League Cup Final on December 19. With so many games coming thick and fast, the hope will be that the Hoops can get smoothly get back into that run of form they were in, prior to the break and continue to carry that forward.
Juranovic, who helped Croatia qualify for the World Cup, scored when the sides last met
Ange Postecoglou has some selection headaches ahead of this weekend, with the injury cloud continuing to hang over Lennoxtown. Thankfully those who were away during the International break have all returned back with a 'clean bill of health', which is always a major relief, as is the upbeat mood of those players.
The importance of having depth in the squad will surely be tested over the coming weeks and months, and why such a sense of relief concerning the fitness of those returning from International duty and the continued progress of the likes of James Forrest and Mikey Johnston.
In addition, Ange Postecoglou was optimistic about the prognosis of the cadre of players who are currently sidelined.
Unfortunately it seems that this weekend's game has come a little too soon for Tom Rogic and Carl Starfelt, both of whom were out of action prior to the break with hamstring strains, but on a more promising note, the manager revealed that they have resumed training with the squad, even if it is highly unlikely either will feature.
Elisewhere, Giorgos Giakoumakis (knee) has also been ruled out for perhaps another week, meaning that Swiss striker, Albian Ajeti will be on standby for some game time, albeit, likely from the bench.
As to the long term absentees, Christopher Julien (knee) is hoped will be able to return to action this month, while Greg Taylor (shoulder), who has been training but unable to do any body contact work, is hopeful of getting the all clear in the next 2-3 weeks to resume full participation, while Karamoko Dembele (ankle) remains sidelined long term.
This situation could've been further complicated, with Stephen Welsh being forced off while on U/21 duty for Scotland against Belguim earlier this week, but the player insists it was largely precautionary and hopes to be available for the weekend.
As for the current Cup holders, there is a doubt about Glen Middleton, who also was forced off with a hamstring complaint while on U/21 duty earlier this week, and in addition Callum Davidson's men will be having to make do without striker Stevie May, who has been effectively ruled out for the next 4-6 weeks.
~~~~ Head to Head ~~~~
P: 149 W: 96 D: 32 L: 21
Last 5 Meetings
~~~~ 2021/22 Form ~~~~
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