Celtic will face Hapoel Be’er-Sheva of Israel in the Champions League play-off round on 17th August, Wednesday. The Hoops are playing the first round of the tie at home and will travel to the Turner Stadium for the return on August 23. Last season, Ronny Deila’s Celtic missed their chance to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League having lost to Swedish side Malmo in the play-off. Rodgers will be keen to lead the Hoops to the Champions League group stage this time out and will be looking to build an advantage with the first leg at home.
Celtic have come a long way having defeated Lincoln Red Imps and Astana so far. H. Be’er Sheva are the final test for them and they have to come out on top. Celtic progressed to the play-off following a dramatic 2-1 victory over Astana as Moussa Dembele scored a stoppage-time penalty to settle the game.
Here is the predicted Celtic lineup against H. Be’er Sheva.
Despite the arrival of Dorus de Vries, Craig Gordon is likely to start between the sticks against H. Be’er Sheva. The 33-year-old now has a solid competition for a starting role under the bar from de Vries who shares a brilliant relationship with the gaffer Brendan Rodgers from their Swansea days.
Erik Sviatchenko is a definite starter in defence. Alongside the Dane, Kolo Toure should get the nod thanks to his immense experience. Mikael Lustig will start in the right-back position. Kieran Tierney is likely to start on the opposite flank ahead of Emilio Izaguirre.
Nir Bitton is back from the ankle injury he suffered earlier this season but is likely to start on the bench only. Callum McGregor has done a brilliant job so far this season in the middle of the park and the 23-year-old will continue plying his trade as a central midfielder alongside skipper Scott Brown. James Forrest’s frozen out career at Celtic managed to get a revival to some extent following the arrival of Brendan Rodgers. The 25-year-old could start on the right flank while summer arrival Scott Sinclair should start on the left wing.
Both Leigh Griffiths and Moussa Dembele took their names on the scoresheet in the second leg against Astana and Celtic are likely to opt for a 2-man forward with the duo against H. Be’er Sheva.