Celtic are back in action this evening as they travel away from Parkhead and Scotland to Italy to face off against Lazio in the Champions League.
It is their fifth match of the group stages and the first four have been tough to endure for the supporters as their side are currently bottom of the group with one point on the board.
They have drawn one and lost three, with three goals scored and 12 conceded, and are five points behind Feyenoord in third place, which makes even dropping down into the Europa League seem unlikely at this stage.
However, the Scottish giants could, at the very least, restore some pride and go out of the competition with a bang by picking up some positive results in their last two matches – starting with tonight’s clash in Rome.
Celtic are heading into this game off the back of a 1-1 draw with Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday and Brendan Rodgers could look to make some changes to his XI from that disappointing result.
One alteration the Northern Irish head coach should make is one to finally unleash David Turnbull in central midfield from the start ahead of Odin Thiago Holm.
Reo Hatate has been ruled out until after the festive period due to a hamstring injury and that has opened up a position in the middle of the park alongside Callum McGregor and Matt O’Riley.
Turnbull must now be unleashed after Holm started against Motherwell and struggled throughout the match as the Hoops failed to secure all three points.
Holm’s performance against Motherwell in numbers
The Norwegian talent only played the opening 45 minutes of the match before being taken off at half time by Rodgers after a dismal first half.
Holm was way off the pace out of possession and did not show the required physicality to compete against the opposition’s midfield throughout the half.
He lost a staggering five of his six individual duels and this included all three of his battles on the ground and two of his three aerial contests.
This led to one interception, zero tackles, zero blocks, and zero clearances, whilst the central midfielder was also dribbled past twice.
The 20-year-old prospect also failed to offer much at the top end of the pitch. He did not provide a single key pass to set his teammates up for a shot at goal and did not register any efforts of his own to trouble the goalkeeper.
Holm in 23/24 Premiership (via Sofascore)
As you can see in the table above, the summer signing has not made a big impact on the ball for Celtic in the Premiership so far this season.
He does not have the attacking quality to make things happen in the final third on a regular basis, which is why Turnbull could come in as a superior option in that position.
The Scotland international should be unleashed ahead of the Norwegian maestro as he has enjoyed a strong season so far and has been better than Reo Hatate.
David Turnbull’s season in numbers
The 24-year-old wizard is yet to start a Champions League match this term and Rodgers should finally hand him the chance to do so because of his impressive Premiership form.
Turnbull has played 11 top-flight matches for the Scottish giants so far this term and started seven times, after a return of six starts in 28 appearances under Ange Postecoglou during the 2022/23 campaign.
In those 11 outings this season, the Scottish whiz has contributed with seven goals and missed three ‘big chances’ in total. He is the club’s top scorer in the league as Matt O’Riley and Kyogo Furuhashi are tied in second with six each.
The right-footed magician has also showcased his creativity with four ‘big chances’ created and 1.5 key passes per game across his seven starts.
These statistics show that Turnbull provides a big threat as both a scorer and a creator of goals from a central midfield position, which means that he could cause Lazio problems at the top end of the pitch.
Whereas, Holm’s form for the Hoops since his move to the club over the summer does not suggest that he is likely to be a match-winner in Rome this evening.
Turnbull, who came off the bench to score from the penalty spot against Motherwell, has not started a match in any competition since the 4th of November against Ross County, a game in which he scored and created five chances.
In fact, the former Motherwell starlet has been a better performer than the injured Hatate this season and could alleviate any concerns over his continued absence with a strong display tonight.
Reo Hatate’s season in numbers
The Japan international has chipped in with two goals and three ‘big chances’ missed in seven Premiership and three Champions League games combined this season.
He has not been as effective in front of goal as Turnbull, as shown by their respective goalscoring record and big chances spurned, and this comes after his return of six league goals during the 2022/23 campaign.
The 6 foot 1 sensation has already beaten that tally with over a month of the first half of the season still to play and this suggests that the Scotsman is a greater threat in that respect.
Creatively, Hatate has not been able to outshine his Scottish teammate as the 26-year-old gem has only created one ‘big chance’ and made one key pass per match for his teammates in the Premiership so far.
This suggests that Turnbull, who was hailed as “excellent” by Rodgers earlier this term, also offers more as a creator for his fellow attackers from a midfield position.
Both players provide a similar presence out of possession. The Scotland international has averaged 3.5 ball recoveries and 0.7 tackles and interceptions per league game in comparison to Hatate’s 3.1 recoveries and 1.3 tackles and interceptions per Premiership match.
Overall, Turnbull has provided more for the Hoops in midfield this season than Hatate, and Holm, and should start against Lazio in the Champions League this evening.