7 points of interest as Celtic hit Austrians with goal blitz

Celtic opened their pre-season fixture list by eviscerating Austrian opponents SC Wiener Viktoria this evening after a six goal blitz in the first-half of the game. Ange Postecoglou left out the vast majority of the heavy hitters as the manager went for a mixture of mostly fringe men and young, emerging talent. They did not disappoint however, beating the opposition into submission within the opening 45 minutes of the game alone.

With goals from Mikey Johnston, James Forrest, Chris Jullien, Rocco Vata and a double for Irishman Johnny Kenny, the Hoops sailed to victory in the end and didn’t require any of our star men to help the mixed side out. A comfortable victory to say the least, there were many interesting things to take note of about the match and performance in general.

READ THIS…Match Report: SC Wiener Viktoria 0-7 Celtic

Here we look at 7 points of interest from the hefty result against our Austrian opponents:

1. The return of Chris Jullien to the side

The big surprise was to see our heavily criticised centre-back included from the start by Ange Postecoglou. Was this a sign that he was prepared to give the big man another chance in the green and white hoops? Or was this merely a decision based on potential suitors casting their eye on him and how he has recovered from injury after so long out? Whatever the reason, Jullien looked as if no time had passed since the last he played regularly at Celtic Park and scored into the bargain. Could we about to see the need for a new central defender put on hold?

2. Bosun Lawal is a unit and was impressive at the back

I had written before about the possibility of Ange giving young Bosun Lawal a run out during this summer’s friendly matches and he didn’t let us down. The Greek-Aussie pitched the Irish U-21 cap in next to the experienced Jullien and he looked very composed. His sheer size and build is the type of physicality we have been crying out for now for what seems like an eternity. Like a brick wall, he appeared to take no prisoners on the ball and was equally comfortable in his distribution. There may be more opportunities ahead for this young man.

3. Joe Hart is a major influence on this team and is a true leader

Throughout the first part of the game this evening before the changes happened at half-time, you could hear Joe Hart instructing his team to press continually and could be heard by the Celtic TV audio cajoling people into changing their shape and position. A vital cog in Postecoglou’s perfect turning wheel, it is not hard to see why Ange trusts him so much. There is no doubting Joe is Ange’s enforcer on the pitch alongside Callum McGregor. Partly the reason why we bounced back so quickly last season was we sorted the goalkeeping situation. As well as being a first-class ‘keeper, Joe is the consummate professional and standard setter within Lennoxtown.

4. Our Japanese midfield Bhoys’ will both have roles to play this season coming

Some of the play from Reo Hatate today was truly world-class. His switching of the ball from one wing to another to find James Forrest countless times was breathtaking. As Stan Petrov alluded to just a few days ago, Reo could be the unassuming shout for POTY in this year’s cinch Premiership. His vision and passing ability is the scariest potential-wise we have seen come through the Parkhead Gates in quite some time. His compatriot, Yosuke Ideguchi had a different start to life under Ange at Celtic. His unfortunate injury put paid to any chance of a quick impact like Hatate, but today he showed he has a part to play as he was tidy in possession and made some excellent interceptions. He might not be like Reo in terms of glamour, but he almost certainly can play a part this year.

5. Johnny Kenny has the potential to be an Ange Postecoglou striker

Today, we witnessed the coming of age of Johnny Kenny as he scored a brace – and was terribly unlucky not to nab a headline-grabbing hat-trick as the big frame of Chris Jullien shoved him out the way from a rebounded ball. Kenny’s pressing of the Viktoria defence was first-class and his movement was also slick and ruthless as he linked up well with both Mikey Johnston and James Forrest. If we can build him up more and get him more aggressive, he could certainly morph into a fantastic striker. Watch this space on that one too.


6. Alexandro Bernabei is a very attacking full-back

Our new left-back signing Alexandro Bernabei started the game today and looked every bit the attacking full-back we were promised. At every opportunity the Argentine youngster was bombing up the pitch to support Mikey Johnston as they demolished the Austrian side’s confidence with some of the interplay. Granted he would never be tested properly in a defensive sense against Wiener, but he definitely looks exciting to watch and the battle between him and Greg Taylor at left-back should be great viewing in the months ahead.

7. Rocco Vata has a very bright future indeed

Ange Postecoglou decided to ring the changes in the second period of the game, as is quite normal procedure for friendlies. One of the changes saw young Republic of Ireland talent Rocco Vata enter the fray. The second-half did not see anywhere near the amount of goals, but it delivered the cherry on top of what was a phenomenal display by our young players. The highlight was 16-year-old Vata scoring on his debut for the first team after an excellent through ball from Liam Shaw. Rocco took the ball in his stride and had the composure of Robert Lewandowski as he fired past the Austrian side’s ‘keeper high into the net. A proud moment for both his mum and dad – his dad playing for Celtic in the early 90’s. Rocco promises to have an extremely high ceiling in regards his potential in the game and we will be able to witness his development under Ange over the next while. A fantastic ending to a fantastic day.

And Rocco’s mum was clearly delighted…

There you have it – our Magnificent 7!

Paul Gillespie

About Author

I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

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