Unlike most clubs, Celtic’s season has already started as they concentrate on making their way to the group stage of the Champions League for the first time since 2013. Brendan Rodgers was appointed by the Scottish champions this summer to take the club in a forward direction. Well, Celtic are boasting five straight Premiership titles but they have lost their glory in Europe. With arch-rivals Rangers back in the Premiership, the title race won’t be as straightforward as it was in the recent years as well. So, Rodgers has a big task in his hands and he has to come out on top if he has to reclaim his lost reputation following his sacking by Liverpool.
During the pre-season and Celtic’s Champions League qualifiers, Rodgers has often used a 3-5-2 formation. Probably the reason behind that was Celtic lacking fit central defenders courtesy to injuries to Simunovic and Boyata while Ambrose has been wasteful when he was played. Erik Sviatchenko was the only fit defender till last week but the Danish international has suffered a layoff lately.
Injuries are parts and parcels of the game and Celtic will definitely come back from the injury crisis they are going through. But there is a big chance Rodgers will stick to the 3-5-2 formation. He tried and failed to utilise this tactic during his Liverpool days but at Celtic, it might just be the Northern Irishman’s favoured formation.
Celtic have two quality strikers up front and it would be a big call from Rodgers to bench either of them. 40-goal scorer from last season Leigh Griffiths is indispensable while highly-rated youngster Moussa Dembele made his move to Parkhead from Fulham only because he could see himself getting regular playing time with the Hoops. In 3-5-2 formation, Rodgers can use both forwards up front and he will be assured of goals.
With Kolo Toure, Erik Sviatchenko and Jozo Simunovic all fit, Celtic’s defence look rock-solid. Mikael Lustig is 29 now and we have seen the Swedish international’s attacking instincts faded to some extent in the last couple of years. Lustig could be converted to a permanent centre-back which will elongate his career.
Kieran Tierney, probably the biggest talent right now in Scottish football, is a menace when he bursts forward with pace from the left flank. The 19-year-old has real venom in his deliveries and his game would improve big time if used as a wing-back. For the time being, Lustig is likely to remain Celtic’s first choice right wing-back but to use the 3-5-2 formation on a weekly basis, Rodgers should go for a young attacking right-back.
Celtic have real quality and depth in midfield with players like Bitton, Brown, Armstrong, Mackay-Steven, McGregor, Roberts, Allan. With two quality forwards and a rock-solid defence, Celtic would be a more compact side in the 3-5-2 formation. It could definitely be Rodgers’ most favoured tactic at Parkhead.