Scott Brown may be among the headlines for the wrong reasons but with one of his Bhoys teammates in rampant form, the Celtic captain’s misdemeanor may matter little for the Hoops in the Scottish League Cup final.
The reigning Scottish Premiership champions go into the second of four consecutive meetings with the Terrors this Sunday and are heavy favourites for victory.
However, they do go into the game off the back of some negative press, with Brown reportedly spotted out in Edinburgh on Wednesday night and looking worse for wear to say the least.
But the 29-year-old’s antics are unlikely to matter much when Celtic meet Dundee United, thanks in no small part to the form of Stefan Johansen.
Signed from Stromsgodset for £2m back in January 2014, the Norway international took some time to settle at Parkhead, scoring just two goals in the first 17 outings of his debut season at the club.
Yet the arrival of compatriot Ronny Deila as Hoops manager in the summer prompted a major upward shift in form with the Scandinavian emerging as a star performer in recent months.
Deila worked with Johansen at the player’s previous club in Norway and evidently knew how to get the best out of the 24-year-old in a way predecessor Neil Lennon was unable to.
Coming into Sunday’s final, Johansen has scored four goals in Celtic’s last five league outings as part of an overall tally of 10 goals this term.
SPFL player of the month for February, Deila now sees Johansen as a standard-bearer for his footballing philosophy at Celtic.
“I think he learned the hard way how to work in the right direction and now we are starting to establish the same kind of environment and culture here,” he told BBC Sport earlier this week.
“He is one of the leaders in that.”
So while defensive frailties remain a concern for Deila going into their encounter with Dundee United, with Johansen looking in top shape, victory still looks likely.
Ladbrokes has even boosted the price on a Celtic win with both teams scoring from 2/1 to 3/1.
Start with Johansen in the team on this kind of form and the Bhoys look likely winners – with or without Brown.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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