Neil Lennon needs to regroup his troops and put behind the disappointment of crashing out of the Champions League qualifiers as they take on AIK in the Europa League playoffs. This is the second season in a row now that Celtic will have to be content without Champions League football, but things could get worse if they fail to deliver against Swedish opponents as well.
Keeping it tight at the back has been a concern for Celtic as they have now gone four games without a clean sheet. They were pushed to extra time by Championship outfit Dunfermline Athletic, and things don’t look right for the Hoops at the moment. Getting to the Europa will be considered as a consolation at best.
AIK just lost one game in their run for the Swedish title last season, but they too have stumbled this time around. They will be backing on getting an away goal as Celtic’s defence has looked vulnerable in the past few weeks.
Team News: Scott Bain is going to be a major miss in goal. Kristoffer Ajer suffered a shoulder issue in the last game, but he should be okay. Michael Johnston suffered from cramps against Dunfermline, but he too should be alright for this all-important clash.
Celtic Predicted Lineup Vs AIK
Craig Gordon is not as mobile as Bain in goal, but he has plenty of experience of playing in big games. Lennon would hope that he can bring it to use in this tie. Kristoffer Ajer is expected to be available, and he is likely to be partnered by Jozo Simunovic in a centre back role. Simunovic wasn’t involved in the Cup clash, but he should be fit.
New signing Hatem Abd Elhamed has looked decent, and he is expected to start on the right. The left-back slot is a big dilemma for Lennon as Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo hasn’t instilled much confidence because of his defensive frailties.
However, playing him is still better than Callum McGregor at left-back as that way Celtic lose their best ball-playing midfielder from his natural position. So we are going in with Bolingoli in the back four even though there are question marks over his performances.
Scott Brown and Callum McGregor should play in central areas through the middle. Brown needs to up his game for this big stage.
Ryan Christie will be used as an attacking midfielder. He should be partnered by James Forrest on the right who has already rescued his side on various occasions this season. Michael Johnston should slot in on the left flank ahead of Lewis Morgan.
Odsonne Edouard is the main striker for the Hoops, and he should start ahead of Leigh Griffiths in this game.