For Celtic, it is not regular to think that a side which loses 7-1 in Europe in one midweek to be playing a domestic cup final that very same weekend. However, Celtic’s domestic performances have been very contrasting to their European form this season. While in the Scottish Premier League they have been nothing but ruthless and dominating, their Champions League adventure has seen them struggle in front of the European powerhouses.
Celtic have won 18 and drawn six in the league and lost just twice. They are still very much the dominant force in Scotland. However, as one might recall, they opened their Champions League campaign with a heavy defeat drubbing at the hands of Paris Saint Germain and were again reminded of the difference in class between the two sides in their last outing when they were thrashed 7-1. They were humbled by Bayern Munich as well on both occasions.
They, however, still clinched the third spot and qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League, once again reminding Europe that they are ready for a fight in the Europa League. With the club managing to hang around in Europe and a domestic season where they look set to clinch another title, Celtic will want to be in top form for the next couple of months to add more silverware.
They are facing off against Zenit St. Petersburg and Celtic will hope to put in a better performance that their latest showings were they lost a match and barely scraped through the other. There are injury concerns for Brendan Rodgers with Tom Rogic still unavailable after missing the U-23 game and Celtic’s problem in goal would mean Dorus de Vries can be expected to start.
Here is how Rodgers is expected to design his team for the Europa League clash.
The veteran Dorus De Vries can be expected between the sticks for Celtic. Jozo Simunovic, who had a howler of a game last time out might be given another opportunity at redemption and can be partnered by Kristoffer Ajer.
Kieran Tierney can be expected at left back with Mikael Lustig expected to play at right back.
Young Olivier Ntcham can be expected to partner the experienced Scott Brown in the middle of the park. Tom Rogic’s injury concern would mean that Callum McGregor can be expected to play in behind the striker at the number 10 role.
Hattrick hero James Forrest can be sure to start from the right as he would be hoping for a repeat performance with Scott Sinclair on the left wing.
Mousa Dembele can be expected to lead the line.
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