Having secured a crucial away goal courtesy of Leigh Griffiths’ late strike in the first leg, it’s honours even as Celtic go head-to-head against Astana under the Paradise floodlights in the second leg of the third round of the UEFA Champions League Qualifiers. The first leg finished 1-1 in Kazakhstan and Celtic hold a big advantage of having a vital away goal.
The Hoops have failed to reach the group stage of the Champions League last season, losing the playoffs against Malmo, but Rodgers will come up with everything in his locker to bring Champions League football back at Celtic Park.
Celtic have been given a massive boost by the manager Brendan Rodgers as the Northern Irishman has told that new signing Kolo Toure could make his Celtic debut in Wednesday’s Champions League qualifier with Astana. Given the injury crisis in defence the Hoops are going through, the presence and experience of Toure at the back line could prove to be pivotal.
Here is the predicted Celtic lineup against Astana,
Craig Gordon will be the undisputed choice under the bar. Rodgers will face a dilemma to decide who to field alongside Kolo Toure at the heart of the defence. Youngster Eoghan O’Connell did exceptionally well in the first leg but you cannot simply overlook the experience of Efe Ambrose no matter how much the fans dislike the Nigerian. I would put my money of O’Connell to start alongside Toure at the heart of the defence. Mikael Lustig and Kieran Tierney will feature in the two full-back positions.
Nir Bitton is doubtful for the game but Stefan Johansen is back to full fitness. However, Rodgers is likely to opt for the midfield pairing of skipper Scott Brown and Callum McGregor. Patrick Roberts was the standout performer in the first leg and he will have his chance to showcase his talent once again from the right flank. Stuart Armstrong will keep his place on the left.
The strike partnership of Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths is yet to click but the chemistry is certainly growing. It might take some more time before the duo start firing and for that, they need to play alongside each other. We can expect to see Rodgers fielding the two strikers up front.