By Kian Watt
Celtic face a trip to Pittodrie in their first Scottish Premiership game since before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Jim Goodwin’s men will be looking for revenge after their 2-0 defeat last time out at Celtic Park in July.
Ange Postecoglu will be expecting a near full strength squad for their travels to the Granite City despite the success of Celtic players at the World Cup. They will be without their star right-back Josip Juranovic however as he faces Argentina on Tuesday, hoping to play the World Cup final the following Sunday. Out of the four players that left the squad to travel to Qatar, all of them progressed to the knockout stages. The Celtic boss spoke to Celtic TV:
“It will definitely be a positive experience for all our boys, they’ve all done well at the World Cup.
“They’ve all played meaningful minutes and they’ve all been really strong contributors to their countries and, when you do that at a World Cup, absolutely you come back with a little bit more belief in yourself.”
Focus for their returning players Cameron Carter-Vickers, Daizen Maeda and Aaron Mooy switches to the game on Saturday with them returning this week. All three players were knocked out of the World Cup at the Round of 16 stage so should be ready to start at the weekend. This along with the news that the boys in green’s captain Callum McGregor will be returning will leave the Celts quietly confident that they can get the job done.
McGregor featured for Celtic in their 4-3 defeat against Rennes last weekend for the first time in over two months. McGregor said:
“To get back to full training, play and get back in after a long period off with the injury, it was just good to be back on the pitch and in about the boys.
“It’s been vital (the camp), I’ve been trying to work as hard as I can and run as hard as I can and try and get as fit as possible for the games when we go back.
“That was the point of the week to try and get as much physical work into the lads as possible, and that will be beneficial when we get back.”
Jim Goodwin’s men will prove to be no walk in the park however with the Aberdeen boss looking to grab his first win against the Old Firm since he took charge last season. After their defeat last time out at Celtic Park, the Northern Irishman insisted that his team would learn from it and look to improve in the future. Since then, Aberdeen have been the best team in the league away from Celtic and Rangers and currently sit in third place. Goodwin spoke last month:
“This is one of the reasons a lot of players we signed came to the Scottish Premier League in the first place because they want to test themselves against the likes of (Celtic and) Rangers, who have good international players.
“We want to go and see how far away we are as a group as well.
“We are sitting third in the table at the moment and there is an incentive to close the gap on Rangers and Celtic.”
Aberdeen saw a huge change of players in the Summer after the disappointments of last season, in their hopes of finishing in a European place and the new signings have seemed to work so far:
After sacking old boss Stephen Glass in February this year after poor results, the Dons Chairman Dave Cormack chose Jim Goodwin as the man who could get Aberdeen back into Europe. He spoke about the necessary decisions he has to make during the clubs Annual General Meeting:
We started last season with some positive results, including reaching the play-off stage of the Europa Conference League. However, after being knocked out in the early rounds of the Scottish League Cup, along with overall poor league form, we made the decision to part company with manager, Stephen Glass. I would like to add, that we are delighted that Stephen has picked up a Head Coaching role in Memphis.
“We subsequently appointed Jim Goodwin. Jim fully embraces our strategy of playing attacking, entertaining football that gets us into Europe consistently, along with reaching the latter stages of both domestic cup competitions.
“Ending the season in a very disappointing tenth place in the league, it was clear that a significant overhaul of the playing squad was needed for the new season.”
Last time out it was the new Aberdeen squads first league game together, however they have had half the year in union and will be looking to shock Celtic at Pittodrie on Saturday.