Celtic could all but wrap up the title as they take on rivals Rangers at Celtic Park on Sunday, and naturally, as with any big game, discussions begin about potential starting XIs. Most positions in the Celtic side look surefire, whether that be due to injuries or just standout players, but the main question around Celtic’s side lies at striker. And it’s an excellent problem for Ange Postecoglou to have. On the one hand, you have Kyogo Furuhashi, a quick, agile forward, and on the other hand, you have Giorgos Giakoumakis, a physical poacher. Both have their qualities, but only one can start on Sunday;
Giorgos Giakoumakis has been in impressive form since the turn of the calendar year, filling in the void Kyogo left following his injury at MacDiarmid Park on Boxing Day. The Greek offers something entirely different from the Japanese start, and his style of football works well against Rangers, excelling in his two appearances against the Ibrox side.
His brute force and physicality cause problems for defenders, and he knows exactly how to be in the right place at the right time. It was also clear how much Celtic missed the Greek striker when we faced Rangers at Hampden in the Scottish Cup Semi-Final, where it was clear we were lacking someone to cause any real problems for the Rangers’ centre-back pairing.
It was also noticeable the impact he made from the bench against Ross County on Sunday. He helped Celtic get further up the field when they were under the a bit of pressure, tracking back to collect and hold up the ball, allowing Celtic to get runners into dangerous positions. Giakoumakis has performed against Rangers before, but he never had Kyogo Furuhashi challenging for his place.
Kyogo has proven himself to be a big game player for Celtic, most notably scoring a brace to win Celtic the Premier Sports Cup, and it was a fine double at that. But other moments go unnoticed as well; his goals across two legs against AZ helped see us through to the Europa League group stage.
He netted against Ferencvaros in Europe, and in December, scored the only goal of the game against Hearts to ensure a vital three points for the men in Hoops. His agility and ability to see pockets of space that no one else can make him a nightmare for opposing defenders to deal with. This season, he has featured twice against Rangers, and they were mixed performances.
In August, Kyogo was controversially started at left wing to accommodate Odsonne Edouard, a mistake that Ange Postecoglou admitted to following the defeat. When Kyogo moved to a central position, he had two big chances and often found himself in space. It showed the potential to cause Rangers problems if played in the correct position, and if played up front on Sunday, it could be a gamble that pays off huge.
When weighing up the two options, it is pretty hard to choose between them as there isn’t a clear outlier. There wouldn’t be complaints from fans no matter who starts, but personally, for me, Kyogo Furuhashi is the way to go. The Japanese frontman has shown up repeatedly in big games providing big moments for the Bhoys when we desperately needed them. Starting through the middle for the first time against the Rangers on Sunday could cause havoc in that their backline.