Premiership giants Celtic will be looking to put things right in the Europa League once again when they travel to the Czech Republic for their midweek clash on Thursday. The Hoops are coming into this tie on the back of a frustrating 2-2 draw at the hands of Hibernian last time, in a display where a majority of their biggest players didn’t perform up to the mark. It took some questionable refereeing to ensure that Celtic got something out of that match, as at one point, they were two entire goals down. The draw, added to Rangers’ win, meant that the point gap between the sides has now entered double figures.
Celtic’s most recent European encounter was also against the Czech side, albeit prior to the recently completed international break. Although they entered that match as the favourites to run out winners, on the occasion, they were completely outclassed by Prague’s play. The match ended up finishing 4-1, with some of the performances from the Celtic players turning out to be nothing short of abysmal all through. Neil Lennon’s men now have the opportunity to redeem themselves in the competition, as they currently find themselves at the bottom of Group H with just one point on the board so far.
The Celts don’t have too many injury concerns to deal with at this point in time, with the only major absence being that of speedy winger James Forrest. Although some might argue that Ryan Christie has been able to fill in satisfactorily for the speedster, it’s worth taking into account that Celtic have looked deprived of pace in the final third of the pitch. Forrest’s return is one that fans and staff alike will be eager to see, however, this fixture is likely to come too soon for the Scottish international. Christopher Jullien and Mikey Johnston are both unavailable for selection as well.
Here Is The Predicted 4-2-3-1 Celtic Lineup Vs Sparta Prague:
Predicted 4-2-3-1 Celtic Lineup Vs Sparta Prague
If there’s one constant in Neil Lennon’s side at this point in time, it’s the presence of Scott Bain in between the sticks. Despite the highly anticipated arrival of Vasilis Barkas in the summer, the Greek keeper has failed to live up to the lofty expectations that were placed on him. In front of Bain, expect to see the recently established centre-half partnership of Nir Bitton and Kristoffer Ajer starting. Shane Duffy’s place has been under fire owing to all the individual errors he seems to be making. The usual suspects of Jeremie Frimpong and Milan loanee Diego Laxalt should start in the full-back roles.
This is one part of the field where Neil Lennon’s side don’t have the ability to spring any surprises in terms of squad selection. Skipper Scott Brown, despite his below-average performance on the weekend, is likely to start, alongside Callum McGregor. While the veteran is likely to sit in front of the back-line and make the ball tick, McGregor will be required to get in possession and drive the Hoops team forward, be it using forward passes or mazy dribbles. The duo hasn’t been in the best of form over recent weeks, and a similar performance to the weekend could put them in a tight spot in this match.
Attack is another area of the pitch where Neil Lennon‘s selection options are extremely limited. With Forrest out of contention for this clash, expect to see Ryan Christie filling in the right-sided wide role, with star man Mohamed Elyounoussi on the left. If it wasn’t for the Norwegian’s exploits, Celtic would be in a much worse situation than they are in right now. Tom Rogic is likely to continue in the number ten role, as his performances haven’t been as bad as some of the others in the team. Expect to see Odsonne Edouard making his return to the starting eleven as well.