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Why ‘brilliant’ 26-year-old Celtic player could get the nod ahead of Reo Hatate vs Atletico Madrid tonight

Celtic must win tonight’s Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid. It is absolutely crucial that all three points are picked up if the supporters are to see European football after Christmas this season.

To do that, a change in formation may well be needed by Brendan Rodgers to help keep the back door closed and allow Celtic to continue their brilliant attacking football.

TBR Celtic posted our predicted XI earlier this morning and we looked at the change in formation and how the team could look in a 4-2-3-1 formation:

The starting lineup didn’t change but the shape did. And on reflection, there could be a case of putting Tomoki Iwata in ahead of Reo Hatate to help nullify the threat of Atletico Madrid as well as ensuring our best-attacking player offers a threat.

Hatate has been struggling for form this season. And whilst I get that he is an important part of the team, he does look low in confidence.

Tonight’s game against Atletico requires players who are bang on form and Matt O’Riley could nudge up into that number 10 role ahead of the Japanese midfielder.

O’Riley is brimming with confidence. He has the ability to pick out a pass to help create something for Kyogo as he did against Lazio. Plus, he knows where the back of the net is.

You could argue that Hatate drops out tonight and Iwata plays in the defensive midfield role alongside Callum McGregor.

Iwata came to Celtic in January right off the back of being named Japan’s Most Valuable Player of the season in that position.

His industry, ball control and passing ability could help bring calmness to the middle of the park and his strength in the tackle could be pivotal in stopping the likes of Morata and Niguez.

And after his goal against Hearts at the weekend, the 26-year-old will be buzzing to pull on the green and white hoops again. And look at the reaction he got from Brendan Rodgers (above) after his Hearts performance.

Look I know many fans will throw up their arms and howl at the suggestion of dropping Hatate tonight. But to get a result, we need players on form and whilst I agree that you can’t argue that Iwata is on form because of the limited amount of minutes he has had, it is an option for Rodgers to think about.

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