Celtic v Hamilton | Match Preview

Celtic F.C. v Hamilton Academical (SPFL Premiership)

Sunday 26th August 2018 

Celtic Park, Glasgow

 

After a frustrating night in Lithuania, Celtic will want to return to winning ways ahead of Thursday’s vital return leg against FK Suduva

 

It’s been a disconcerting few weeks to be a Celtic fan: a 1-0 defeat to Hearts in the SPFL; exiting the Champions League at the hands of AEK Athens; the public outcry against the board, with the associated situation surrounding Dedryck Boyata; and then a disappointing 1-1 draw away to FK Suduva in the Europa League playoff round.

While Hamilton Accies are consistently tipped for the drop, they always seem to scrape their way through when it matters. However, these results do not typically come against the top sides in the league. While Celtic’s recent defensive displays appear to make anything possible, it is unlikely that Hamilton should pose much of a threat to the Double Treble winners.

Tom Rogic and James Forrest should find some joy against a side that are not one of the most defensively disciplined in the league. The new pitch at Celtic Park should aid the rapid exploitation of space in between Hamilton’s defense and midfield.

It is vitally important that Celtic not only get a victory, but do so convincingly – ideally, with a clean sheet to boot. Confidence is unusually low among the Celtic faithful, and it is down to the players to remedy this early season bluster with a comfortable victory against one of the relegation favourites.

 

Stats Corner:

Celtic have

  • Only lost one of their last 38 home matches in the SPFL Premiership.
  • Won 10 of their past 11 home matches against Hamilton in all competitions.
  • Conceded in their past three games against Hamilton.
  • Kept just one clean sheet in their past 6 games (all comps).

 

Last five games:

 

Line up:

Hamilton are likely to line up in a 4-4-2, putting pressure on Celtic’s famously shaky backline by pressing man-for-man on our centre-halves. They will most likely drop back into a 4-4-1-1 with Bingham shadowing Scott Brown in order to stunt Celtic’s build-up play.

This means that the wide areas – especially the left-hand side – are where the match will be won and lost. The very decent Ziggy Gordon is back at the Accies and will have to cope with Kieran Tierney’s excellent combination play and gut-busting runs to the by-line. This focus on the left-hand side should allow space for James Forrest to make damaging runs from deep. This kind of scenario is a typical display of Celtic’s domestic dominance with regards to options in attack. However – unlike Thursday – the Hoops will need to be more clinical in the final third.

Celtic may well rest Dembele after a full 90mins on Thursday. This will give Leigh Griffiths a chance to finally bag his 100th goal for Celtic. Support from the resurgent Scott Sinclair will be crucial for him to achieve this.

 

Key battles:

  • Kieran Tierney v. Ziggy Gordon
  • Celtic v. The Concept of Defending
  • Jack Hendry v. The Crowd

 

Advanced Stats (from ModernFitba.com)

Expected Goals (xG) Table

  • The quality of the chances created and conceded by a team is measured in the expected goal value (xG) of those chances.
  • Hamilton have the third worst difference between xG For and xG Against, which is two lower than their actual league position.
  • Celtic have the third best xG difference in the league so far this season, which is three higher than their current place in the league table.

 

Goals and Chance Quality

  • Celtic have produced the highest xG value from their chances of all teams so far, but they are only 7th when it comes to chance quality (xG) conceded.
  • Hamilton have the lowest amount of shots taken and the highest amount of shots conceded, but look at the average xG per shot for and against; they have the highest average chance quality created and the third lowest conceded.

 

Chance Map:

  • The large difference between Hamilton’s shots for and against can be seen in this graphic – but also notice how 60% of the shots they’ve taken is within the ‘Danger Zone’ where most goals are scored from, with only about a third of the shots conceded coming from the same area.

 

Finishing

  • Celtic are underperforming when it comes to all three finishing metrics so far; when it comes to the rate in which the hit target, score from all shots and score from shots on target, they’re 7-8% below the ‘expected’ rate.
  • While Hamilton would have been expected to get slightly higher % of their shots on target, they’ve scored from 2 of their 3 shots on target so far – that’s an unsustainable high rate and means they need to get a lot more shots on target to keep up this scoring rate.

 

Prediction: Celtic 3 – 0 Hamilton


Dan is a 22-year-old from Glasgow. He is a student who also works in media. His dearest passions are films, books, music and Mohamed Bangura's YouTube skills compilation. Find him on Twitter: @TheDJMcGowan


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