The first Glasgow Derby of the season is yet another whereby the changes in personnel surrounding it make predictions tricky.

Celtic now have a new manager since last season in the shape of Brendan Rodgers and have lost stalwarts in the treble-winning side in Carl Starfelt, Aaron Mooy and Jota. An early spate of injuries also means that Cameron Carter-Vickers will not feature, whilst Alistair Johnston is easing his way back from a long-term ankle problem. In terms of recruitment, Celtic have been steadfast in sticking to the “buy young and cheap” model and the “try-before-you-buy” market.

At Ibrox, some in the press would have you believe Michael Beale has only just started and that this is a brand-new team, but the defence and midfield have familiar looks. Vast sums have been splashed in the forward department, however. Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos were key attackers for several years but have walked away for no fee. An exotic collection of Brazilian, Dutch, Nigerian and Senegalese talent is now in place.

It is very early into the season but what does the data tell us about each team’s approach?

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Ange-lite or full-fat Rodgers?

In essence, Celtic are still playing in a 4-3-3 shape in attack aiming to get numbers into the box and to create overloads out wide.

The most noticeable innovation has been turning Kyogo Furuhashi into a more rounded forward, whereby he is dropping into pockets of space and feeding through balls to advancing midfielders. There is more emphasis on Matt O’Riley and David Turnbull getting ahead of the striker and into the box.

This has had mixed success. In the opening two matches, three goals came from open play from the pair and several other chances as well.

The corollary to this is that Callum McGregor - who is showing signs of slowing down a tad - has often been isolated, especially in transition. Against Aberdeen in particular, the home side had a few breaks, whereby McGregor was overrun in the middle of the park.

Here is the pass network map from the St Johnstone game:

The average alignment is pure “Angeball”, with the full-backs tucked in and the midfielders attacking the half-spaces between the defenders. But what is also typical this season is the swathe of space around McGregor. He has tended to be man-marked in the three games so far and whilst you don’t expect Rangers will do that, it has meant he is on the ball less, and therefore not able to set the tempo Celtic relies upon.

Last season, Celtic had a nice balance out wide, with a ball-hungry progressor and aggressor in Jota on one wing, and a line stretcher in behind in Daizen Maeda on the other. This term - with Maeda and Liel Abada - they have had two players less comfortable coming short and committing defenders. Both prefer the ball in the box. This has made Celtic quite easy to defend against as the ball kept being recycled backwards from the wide positions.

That changed at the weekend when Yang Hyun-Jun was happily driving at the St Johnstone backline at pace from any distance. It will be fascinating to see if new signing Luis Palma can offer the same variety and directness.

Injury has hampered the defence and the back four, ending the disappointing draw at home to St Johnstone with a defensive line-up of Anthony Ralston, Liam Scales, Gustaf Lagerbielke and Alexandro Bernabei is not one most Celtic fans wish to see again.

In the SPFL, there is a marked difference in performance between the two defences, given Rangers have had a settled and first-choice unit to choose from:

Celtic maintain a higher line, though not as high as under Postecoglou. Otherwise, Rangers have done a great job of restricting the quality of shots and even shots from counterattack opportunities.

With one of Ryan Jack or John Lundstram joining Nicolas Raskin and often Todd Cantwell in a screen, the backline is far more protected than Celtic’s.

If we look at the pass network from the recent match versus Ross County:

We see that compared to Celtic, Rangers have a much more conservative midfield alignment and let the three forwards get on with the attacking.

What is Bealeball?

When Beale was the brains behind the Steven Gerrard reign, the Ibrox side were always compact in the midfield, which remains a feature of this iteration.

What is slightly different is the level of directness.

Averaging 467 accurate passes per match, this is over 100 less than rivals Celtic on 582, although Celtic attempt 28 long balls per game compared to the Blues' 25. This is a feature under Rodgers of trying to hit the pacy Maeda, Furuhashi and Abada early, something we may see often at Ibrox, where it is unlikely Beale will set up a low block.

Under Beale, the two full-backs remain crucial to how the team plays, and the majority of the completed seven crosses per match come from James Tavernier and Borna Barisic. Celtic average just 4.7 in comparison.

Whilst, as we discussed above, the more settled and consistent Rangers backline - screened by two or three from midfield - are far more defensively sound than Celtic’s cavalcade of personnel, the attacking trends are very different.

Celtic have been far more able to generate good quality shots and to force errors on the press and counter-attack.

The champions have generated 3.58 post-shot xG per game compared to the Blues’ 2.29. Even without a fully-functioning wing unit - in comparison to Rangers - Celtic’s attack, though blank in two matches, is generating chances.

Beale has not yet found a coherent alignment between Cyriel Dessers, Danilo, Sam Lammers, Abdallah Sima and Kemar Roofe. Not only have they not established a consistent attacking threat from the new recruits, but the pressing intensity of the team also diminishes in the forward areas, with Rangers well below league average in pressures in the final third, whilst that remains a strength of Celtic.

Rangers have played twice the number of games as Celtic due to Champions League qualification. What those games have revealed is that the defensive solidity has not scaled well to that level, with an average of 1.26 xG conceded per game and 14.75 shots.

The attack has fared better with the same number of shots generated as conceded but a higher xG of 1.6. It seems this Rangers is better suited to a more counter-attacking style and the forwards purchased prefer that to trying to break down low blocks.

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It is over-simplistic to say that the league's best defence is taking on the best attack.

The European experience has shown that the Rangers defence did not hold up well to better quality attackers, whilst their own attackers were more comfortable with the space afforded in those ties. Celtic are struggling to put out a consistent defence and the challengers a consistent attack.

Beale cannot countenance going four points behind the champions at this early stage, and on top of losing out on Champions League riches, is under the most pressure this weekend. Rodgers is just in the door and - with injury and new signings arriving as we speak - has not been near putting out his preferred team yet.

This tie may come too early for him to imprint his vision on the Hoops. Both teams have many question marks over their coherence, and therefore Sunday may come down to individual errors or moments rather than who has the better strategy.