Celtic might not have removed all of the rubble from a dismal 2020/21 campaign at Parkhead but Ange Postecoglou’s Bhoys team look like they’re on the right track again.
The Hoops have secured three consecutive wins, scored 13 goals in the process and kept successive clean sheets. They have also moved into the next round of European qualifying after a 7-2 aggregate win over Czech opposition Jablonec.
The performance last week in their 4-2 victory was swashbuckling, but while the offensive play was again dominating on Thursday night, it was a more professional performance at the back in their 3-0 win.
Joe Hart made some top-class saves to prove his worth to the club after arriving from Tottenham, and together with Carl Starfelt, they look like they could be a phenomenal partnership.
Starfelt hasn’t had the easiest of rides since arriving at Parkhead but the big Swedish defender showed signs of stealing the show last night, putting in a combative and elegant performance.
He’s attracted criticism in his opening few matches in Glasgow, with a bizarre back pass towards Scott Bain almost costing Celtic a goal in their defeat to Hearts.
The Swede was fortunate not to give away a penalty against Jablonec this week, but otherwise it was an impressive display.
We know that Starfelt is a fantastic passer of the ball and that was apparent on Thursday evening as he completed a whopping 91% of his passes in front of a raucous Parkhead crowd. Furthermore, the centre-back won back possession on nine occasions, the second-highest number by a Celtic player.
Speaking at full-time on A Celtic State of Mind, Paul John Dykes was keen to praise him: “Starfelt had his best game in a Celtic jersey so far,” he began.
“He might have given away a penalty and got away with that one but he’s starting to look like the player we thought he was when he first came in.”
Dykes concluded: “He’s got a bit of Tony Mowbray about him. He reminds me of Tony Mowbray with the way he moves about the park.”
Although there was a slight mishap, the Swede was much improved beyond that and looks as though he could be a real find for the Hoops.
After a turbulent start to the new campaign for Nir Bitton, it will delight Postecoglou that he can now rely on Starfelt and Stephen Welsh to set the tone at the back.