Celtic v Rangers (Match Preview)
Probabilities for the match are Celtic 56%, Rangers 20% and 24% for the draw.
Celtic have played Rangers 32 times with Celtic winning 17, Rangers winning 10 (1 after 90 mins and 1 after penalties) and there being 5 draws. A 53% winning record for Celtic and an aggregate score of 54 – 31 to Celtic.
When Celtic have had more than 700 fans in attendance (like this Saturday) that changes to 71% with Celtic winning 15 of the 21 matches. Rangers have only one once in 90 minutes when Celtic have had more than 700 fans in attendance and that was December 2019. Rangers did win two other times (1 in extra time and 1 after penalties). The other 3 games being draws.
When doing the preview for the last couple of derby games it was interesting to look over some PPDA stats.
Passes per defensive action can sometimes indicate how well a team presses. IE Celtic’s PPDA of 6.3 in the last game shows that Rangers had on average 6.3 passes per defensive action from Celtic.
The lower the number the more indicative of pressing. However that is not always the case. Rangers lowly 6.3 passes per Celtic’s defensive action could be attributed to their desire to go long ball very early and very often.
The trends of the first 15 minutes show that Celtic do reduce Rangers to less passes per defensive action in that time period. Starting the game with intensity. With the last game being the lowest at only 4.0 PPDA in the first 15 minutes. Given that the other two games being under 5.0 were September 2022 and February 2022 you would expect much of the same this Saturday.
xG from the previous 3 games this season were
September - 1.88 v 0.79 in Celtic’s favour
January – 1.99 v 1.17 for Rangers
February – 1.91 v 1.1 for Celtic
In the February game Tavernier received the most passes for Rangers (receiving 40), 10 from Goldson. and Taylor received the most for Celtic (58), 25 from Starfelt
The average positions of the players over the last 2 league games are below;
Both Rangers away in September and Celtic away in January having a more compact centre of midfield and along the half way line.
However it is worth noting in the wide positions Rangers only have their fullbacks with an average wide position and Celtic having both their fullbacks and wide forwards.
I’m predicting 1 change to the starting 11 for Rangers with Sakala coming in for Morelos. In their last game against Dundee Utd Morelos started up front and Colak came on as a sub. Arfield, Wright and Souttar also came on as subs as did Sakala. Unused subs were McLaughlin, Yilmaz, Kamara and Matondo.
They could go 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 but they are all about crowding the centre of the pitch however they do it. Cantwell probably offers more defensively than Tillman so in a 4-3-3 it could be Sakala, Tillman and Kent up front with Tillman a false 9 or they could play Tillman wide right, Kent wide left and Sakala through the middle for his pace. I’d be surprised to see them waste a jersey with Morelos.
Raskin would have played if fit as he’s been a world beater in the 245 minutes played so far but I believe he is injured until mid April. Kamara may come in for Jack or Lundstram but I can’t see it as he has never performed well in the derby games.
Rangers likely line up;
Allan McGregor has conceded 4 goals more than expected this season which is 7th in the league. At 60.5% his save percentage is 11th in the league.
James Tavernier is well down on his 0.35 assists and 0.33 expected assists (xA) per 90 from last season with 0.13 assists and 0.2 xA per 90 this season.
Connor Goldson is 2nd in the league with 5.7 accurate long balls per 90
Ben Davies is 5th in the league and best of any Celtic or Rangers player for % of defensive duels won at 79.45% for the season so far.
Borna Barisic is doing better than Tavernier this year with 0.26 assists and 0.24 xA per 90. This is up on his last year’s figures of 0.13 and 0.23 xA.
John Lundstram is 6th in the league (Rangers 2nd best after Sands) for accurate passes per 90 with 73.9
Ryan Jack completed the most passes (117) in the last game against Dundee Utd
Todd Cantwell only has an xA of 0.16 per 90 so far.
Malik Tillman despite not looking great defensively is 3rd in the league for possession won in the final 3rd at 1.2 per 90
Ryan Kent leads the SPFL with 54 total chance creating ball carries.
Fashion Sakala has the most successful dribbles per 90 at 2.6 with Jota 7th on 1.9.
My predicted Celtic line up is;
Hart, Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt and Taylor
O’Riley, Iwata and McGregor
Jota, Kyogo and Maeda
Combining the starting 11’s Celtic have an xG per 90 of 1.94 while Rangers have an xG per 90 of 2.2. For xA it is 1.2 for Celtic versus 1.56 for Rangers. Celtic’s subs though could make a difference to that figure. That is all competitions and includes penalties.
However my predicted line up is through my pessimistic eyes and assuming Hatate won’t be fit. If Hatate is fit then it will be O’Riley or Mooy (if it) alongside. I just can’t see Celtic going with O’Riley and Mooy in this game.
My predictions in the last game were;
Kyogo to score first
Celtic to win 2-0
O’Riley to score the second
Celtic to be winning 2-0 at half time
I got one right.
My prediction for this game is that it will be a lot tighter and I’m going for 2-1 to Celtic with Kyogo scoring first again and Jota scoring the second.
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