Greg Taylor’s recent injury has offered Alexandro Bernabei the opportunity to get a run of games in Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic starting XI in the last few weeks.

A £3.75million signing from Lanus last summer, Bernabei has so far found his chances to impress in the hoops limited due to Taylor’s outstanding form this season.

With Taylor sidelined after being forced off in the derby draw at Ibrox though, Bernabei has been handed starts in the last two games, including Saturday night’s League Cup semi-final victory over Kilmarnock.

The League Cup semi-final tie at Hampden was potentially the 22-year-old Argentine’s biggest game in a Celtic shirt and offered a platform for a potential breakthrough performance.  

However, Bernabei did not exactly seize his opportunity with a mixed display at the national stadium.

He struggled to deal with Kilmarnock’s in-form Daniel Armstrong, particularly in the opening exchanges, and while he impressed again in an attacking sense at times, his use of the ball was not always on point.

It was a performance that almost summed up the early stages of his Celtic career –some encouraging moments coupled with signs there are still areas of his game that need to be developed before he can consistently challenge Taylor for a starting spot.

Although he has only clocked up 582 league minutes, two League Cup appearances and just one cameo appearance in the Champions League, a look at Bernabei’s data can offer some further insight into his performances in the first six months of his Celtic career.

Admittedly a small sample to draw too many concrete conclusions from at this stage, early analysis of his data can still start to shed light on those areas of his game that need refining, as well as highlighting where he has shown promise too.

Celtic Way:

A look at his StatsBomb radar, which covers just his league minutes, offers some initial insight.

One thing we can say about Bernabei is that he is busy, in pretty much all aspects of his game.

In a ball progression sense this can be seen his high number of deep progressions, passes/carries into the opposition's final third (12.05 per 90), as well as his xGBuildup value of 0.95 per 90.

Providing plenty of output on the ball, StatsBomb data also highlights how active Bernabei is out of possession too, averaging over three (3.06) possession-adjusted interceptions per 90 and just under three (2.86) possession-adjusted tackles.

This high level of activity off-the-ball is also shown in his 12.05 pressures per 90.

The former Lanus man’s diminutive stature has seen him targeted on more than a few occasions aerially so far. However, his radar also shows he has more than risen to that particular challenge with a high percentile rank amongst his positional peers for aerial wins (2.32 per 90). His overall aerial duel win percentage is around 50 per cent. 

Some of the other metrics on his radar start to reveal some of the areas of his game where he will need to show signs of improvement though.

His 4.48 turnovers per 90 is high, very high. It is the highest of any other full-back or wing-back in the league (minimum 300 minutes played).

It is also considerably higher than any other Celtic full-back. Taylor, his direct competition for the left-back slot, turns the ball over roughly three times less per 90 (1.59). Anthony Ralston (1.06) and Josip Juranovic (0.97), the other two Celtic full-backs with over 300 league minutes are also much more secure in possession.

This may well go some way to explaining why, when Taylor was forced off against Rangers in the 20th minute, Postecoglou turned to Juranovic to fill in at left-back rather than Bernabei.

Celtic Way:

It is somewhat unfair to compare him directly to Taylor, three years his senior and with far more senior minutes under his belt.

However, they are in direct competition for the one starting place and their comparison radar does show further areas where Bernabei has work to do to challenge his teammate once Taylor returns to full fitness.

As well as conceding possession at a higher rate, Bernabei also commits roughly one more foul per 90 than Taylor. The Scotland international also has a higher tackled/dribbled past percentage, this essentially means Taylor is more likely to get a tackle in during a 1v1 than he is to get dribbled past.  

Again, it is perhaps unfair to compare directly, especially also given the limited sample size of Bernabei’s data.

That said, it is still pretty clear he will have to be more precise with his work in possession going forward.

There were also plenty of examples of this on Saturday night at Hampden too. According to Wyscout Bernabei was responsible for a total of 17 losses, eight of which came in his own half.

The below percentile rank pizza charts, which use Wyscout per-90-minute data converted into percentile ranks v other full-backs/wing-backs in the league, also highlight areas where Taylor currently has the edge over him.

Celtic Way:

Given Celtic’s domination in possession domestically, both rank highly for progressive and dangerous passes (a combination of through passes and key passes).

Taylor has a minimal edge on progressive passes, 12.88 per 90 to Bernabei’s 12.53.

However, there is a more considerable gap when it comes to those dangerous passes, Taylor registers a combined 2.21 per 90 with Bernabei executing over one less per 90 (1.08). 

There is also evidence of Taylor’s better ball security here too. Taylor has the highest pass completion percentage in the dataset (84.41 per cent) with Bernabei lower, albeit not by much (82.28 per cent).

It is worth emphasising again the small sample size of Bernabei’s data in this analysis with more minutes required before drawing too definitive judgments from his numbers. The end of the season should hopefully provide the sample sizes to conduct a more statistically robust analysis.

Of course, the data is only ever one part of the picture too. As shown earlier, Bernabei has already demonstrated his ability to embrace the inverted role required of a Celtic full-back, as can be seen in his heatmap, from Wyscout, below.

Celtic Way:

His assist, one of two so far, in the 6-1 win over Hibs back in October was one example of this. Driving through the inside channel, he showed great pace and power to carry into the final third before crossing for Giorgos Giakoumakis to tap home.

Celtic Way:

There were plenty of examples of him taking up those inverted positions at Hampden against St Johnstone at the weekend too. Such as the below where he moved into the middle of the centre circle to receive from Juranovic.

Celtic Way:

Those physical attributes should not be undervalued either. Despite his small stature, he packs a punch with plenty of power and a decent turn of pace.

There is no doubt he has all the attributes to be a highly effective player in this Celtic side.

If he can clean up some of the areas of his game highlighted earlier, then there is still every chance he will go on to be a success at Parkhead.