We look at the WyScout data from Celtic’s 2-0 Europa League qualifying first-leg victory over AZ Alkmaar to give you a match report experience like no other.


Celtic Way:

Straight away what sticks out is James Forrest's position in-field close to Kyogo Furuhashi, with those two almost forming a box with David Turnbull and Tom Rogic to exploit half-spaces and link-up with one another between the lines.

Liel Abada clearly stayed out wide as an outlet while Callum McGregor was mostly sitting deep and central (although his total actions map, below, shows how much he got about the rest of the pitch too).  At the back, Stephen Welsh and Carl Starfelt switched sides in central defence, with the Swede sitting slightly deeper on average.

Celtic Way:


Celtic did have more of the ball - but not much overall. Ange Postecoglou's men registered 54 per cent possession – their lowest amount in any game since he took charge - but what is most intriguing is the dichotomy between halves. Celtic's 67 per cent possession in the opening 45 was almost completely flipped after the break, when AZ had the ball 62 per cent of the time.

Celtic Way:

Both sides passed the ball about as well as one another in general (Celtic 81 per cent accuracy, AZ 80) although Celtic's accuracy notably dropped off in the second half (down to 73 per cent).


Celtic Way:

Overall, Celtic recorded a 53 per cent duels win rate with AZ down at 41 per cent.

While much of the passing seemed to take place inside, the match was fought most intensely on the flanks, with the left wing and half-spaces - areas routinely occupied by Welsh and Greg Taylor - a more intense battleground than the right.

In terms of losses, Celtic ceded the initiative to AZ more than they have other opponents over the past five games. In particular, Taylor's count of 22 losses was a match-high and more than twice the amount he usually registers (nine per game over the past five matches).

Celtic Way:

Celtic allowed 10 passes per defensive action (a measure of pressing intensity) suggesting their press was not quite as relentless or effective as it has been over the past few matches. AZ's PPDA was nine, which was actually better than their average in the league last season of 12.49.


Celtic Way: Joe Hart general stats v AZJoe Hart general stats v AZ

Joe Hart's early save had 0.83 xCG value. The keeper made four saves in total and was also heavily involved in play with 46 passes (the most he’s played in a match since WyScout began collecting data on him in 2015).

READ MORE: Celtic box clever to bring Europa League group stage within touching distance - Sean Martin

Celtic Way:

Hart’s short passing was again consistent and accurate, though his passes into the AZ half were more varied. In the opposition goal, AZ keeper Hobie Verhulst made seven saves, including one to deny Odsonne Edouard in the 85th minute which had a 0.95 xCG value.


Celtic Way:

Postecoglou's men got off 14 shots mostly from central positions. Long shots were all low xG value but did tend to test the AZ keeper or win a corner. Celtic underperformed their xG of 3.29 while AZ did the same with their 1.46, suggesting the Hoops were good value for their win based on the chances both sides created.

Celtic Way:


Like the average positions map, you can again see the attacking quartet of Turnbull, Rogic, Forrest and Kyogo stayed in fairly close proximity to one another. At the centre of matters, as ever, is captain McGregor while Hart's consistent distribution to the centre-backs is reflected in the thickness of the lines between the trio.

Celtic Way:

Taylor's heavy involvement is indicated in the same way, and indeed it was he who fed the attacking quartet most during the match. Abada again cuts a slightly isolated figure on the right.

Player focus: Anthony Ralston

Ralston's impressive display showcased his general tenacity - 13 recoveries (his average over the past five matches is 4.8) - as well as his new-found confidence going forward. He completed six of seven dribble attempts for a success rate of 86 per cent, more than double his recent average (2.9, 42 per cent).

In addition, Ralston made two key passes and completed 50 per cent of his crosses, both team-high numbers. His percentage of total successful actions was actually the lowest of his past five matches (58 per cent vs last-five average of 71.4 per cent) but the 22-year-old still came to the fore in key moments throughout the match.

Celtic Way:

Defensively, Ralston won the joint-most aerial duels with five, alongside Welsh, while ranking second for interceptions with seven (again behind Welsh, who registered a massive 16).

None of those interceptions was more appreciated than when, in the 67th minute, Ralston spotted the potential danger as Celtic were caught four-v-five in AZ's favour after ceding possession in midfield. The right-back's last-ditch slide to prevent Yukinari Sugawara's low cross from reaching striker Vangelis Pavlidis as the crowd were just finishing doing the huddle in the 67th minute was a memorable moment in a worthy performance.