McGregor & Christie’s Celtic Performances Heap Pressure on Injured Duo

We’ve seen a real upturn in Celtic’s performances in the past month or so.

The Hoops have won their last seven domestic fixtures and just secured a vital victory in their Europa League clash against RB Leipzig.

Both Ryan Christie and Callum McGregor have helped their team’s cause during this return to form and they were especially good in the win over the Bundesliga cracks on Thursday night.

People might have been impressed with the new ‘disco lights’ at Celtic Park the other evening but it was the Celtic midfield that really seemed to shine!

After an extended loan spell away at Aberdeen since his signing from Inverness Caley Thistle, Christie is finally taking his chance to impress at Parkhead.

The attack-minded midfielder has struck three goals in each of his last three domestic games, including two against Scottish Premiership leaders Hearts. He also superbly burst forward against Leipzig to then pick out Odsonne Edouard expertly inside the box and the Frenchman then grabbed the winner.

Christie is great at knowing when to go forward and join in attacks. He’s also aware of his surroundings when it comes to setting up chances for others or taking on an attempt himself.

The Scottish international was played in a central midfield position in the Europa League win on Thursday night. He was extremely impressive in his defensive work. No player on the park attempted more tackles than Ryan’s ten tackling attempts, plus importantly Christie won all of those tackles!

In beside Christie, Callum McGregor gave another assured and mature display.

We all know that the Hoops youth product is great at finding space on the park and dictating play. He has shown in recent weeks that he can be a stalwart in the holding role too. He’s a player that leads by example and can cover every inch of grass.

Being an intelligent player, Callum is able to snuff out attacks by nipping in and making an interception. In the European win over RB Leipzig, he made five successful interceptions and again that was more than any other footballer on the field of play.

It was McGregor’s quick thinking and ability to spot an opportunity that started the build-up that lead to Kieran Tierney’s opening goal.

Like Christie, Callum also has an eye for goal and he’s especially good at popping up, grabbing vital strikes in important games!

After the Europa League win, Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers was glowing in his assessment of McGregor’s performance:

“If you ever want to find out what type a team is, look at the holding midfielder,”  

“If it’s a centre half you probably know they want to defend. If it’s a ‘player’, you know they probably want to play. But you still have to be able to press and do the dirty work.”

“But Callum does that well. He does the footballing aspect naturally but why he is also in there is that tactically he can read the game so well. He’s one of your tactical decision-makers.”

Both midfielders also did well when they were on the ball as their passing success rates were both above 75% against Die Bullen.

With all that in mind, it’s going to be hard for injured duo Olivier Ntcham and club captain Scott Brown when they try and break back into the starting eleven.

Ntcham is a classy performer and will be up for the fight, he’s just signed a new deal with the Scottish champions. He’s very strong on the ball and has a wand of a left foot. He’s also very energetic and has an eye for a defence splitting pass.

Brown has been an inspirational leader for the Hoops for the some time now but the former Scotland captain hasn’t been as impressive this term. Transitions from midfield seem to slow up when Scott’s part of the play. He also doesn’t have the ability to find key passes like the other midfielders. Dare I say it but the thirty-three year old also seems to have lost it in the legs too.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’d never discount Brown. He has proved me wrong in the past and is still a player that can turn up on the big occasions. As I’ve said, Ntcham is another fantastic operator too but both the injured talents will have to bide their time when the return to full fitness.

Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie have both minded the till in recent weeks and the team have been playing superbly well.

So I doubt Rodgers will want to drop them just because the other two midfield stars return from the treatment table.

It’s great for Celtic that they’ve got such strength in depth in a vital position for the team.

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