Cristian Gamboa Deserves To Keep His Place In The Celtic Starting Eleven

It’s fair to say Cristian Gamboa hasn’t been used too often since he arrived at Celtic in the summer of 2016.

The defender has made just nineteen Scottish Premiership appearances in his first two seasons at the club and he’s yet to play for The Hoops during this league campaign.

But they say patience is a virtue and the Costa Rican, who had a decent showing at the World Cup, has finally given Brendan Rodgers the perfect excuse to take Mikael Lustig out of the right-back berth.

You could tell that Lustig probably needs more of a rest after his own World Cup exploits. He wasn’t at the races during the loss to AEK Athens in the Champions League. Some Celtic supporters believe the Swede is past his best and has an inability to prevent crosses coming in from his side.

Rodgers decided to play Gamboa on the right side of defence against Patrick Thistle in the Betfred Cup this weekend.

The right-back had played well in his side’s away draw against Rosenborg earlier in the summer and deserved his chance to stake a claim to play more often for The Hoops this year.

The twenty-eight year old gave a really good account of himself in the back four against The Jags.

When Celtic conceded an equaliser to their opponents on Saturday, you could sense a few in the crowd were getting a bit worried.

But Gamboa didn’t let the disappointment of conceding get him down, the right-back decided that he had to put his team back on the front foot.

He would link up perfectly with sub James Forrest down the right.

Winger Forrest would step in and that gave Cristian licence to overlap and get down the touchline. He was aided by the fact that Partick Thistle winger Chris Erkine didn’t do a good enough job in tracking him.

That move gave Celtic a perfect outlet to exploit and it lead to them grabbing two goals and taking the tie.

He pushed forward, received the ball deep inside then played a one-two with Forrest and when he received the ball back he charged towards the Thistle penalty area before drilling in a cross that was expertly met by Moussa Dembele.

In truth though, it was Gamboa’s energy and determination that created the strike.

Again it was a really nice one-two with Forrest, who gave the Costa Rican an inch perfect pass, that started the move of for the third and final goal for the Scottish champions. This time Cristian headed for the byline before spotting eventual goalscorer Tom Rogic and supplying him with a great cutback.

Now defensively the twenty-eight year old still concerns those that watch him. He has a tendency to switch off and can be given a torrid time against tricky wingers.

But one thing you’ve got to remember is that he hasn’t really had a run of games in the first team. It’s hard to be fully match fit and establish yourself if you’re not playing regularly in the team and not given the chance to build a chemistry with the rest of the defence or with the wide-man playing in front of you.

You could tell that Gamboa and Forrest have the makings of a great double act but you’ll only truly know if they get given an extended run-out playing in the same team.

During the game at Firhill, the Celtic faithful sang Cristian Gamboa’s name on the terraces.

It didn’t go unnoticed with the player stating after the game:

“I’ve been two years at the club and they hadn’t sung my name so today was really special especially as my family were here,”

Here’s hoping his manager also took note and is willing to give the defender a chance to make the right-back spot his own.


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