It’s been a dreadful start for Celtic who not only got knocked out from the Champions League qualifiers but also suffered a league defeat against Hearts in the opening encounter. Ange Postecoglou is in desperate need of a victory to uplift the spirit within the camp and the Thursday night contest would determine their European fate in the Stadion Střelnice.
They got demoted to the Europa League third qualifying round after failing to pass the Midtjylland test in the Champions League. Czech minnows FK Jablonec would be their midweek opponents and the gaffer must ensure a result on the road to be in the driver’s seat ahead of next week’s return leg tie at Parkhead.
Predicted 4-2-3-1 Celtic Lineup To Face FK Jablonec
Celtic’s custodian conundrum is not sorted yet. Vasilis Barkas got dropped after yet another erroneous outing in the pre-season friendly against West Ham United and we might once again see Scott Bain featuring between the sticks for this crucial outing.
Anthony Ralston would not remain the obvious choice if a new right-back is roped in late in the window. But the youngster was impressive at Tynecastle as he fired in the Bhoys’ only goal of the game. The decision of dropping Stephen Welsh did not work out and the manager must try the academy graduate alongside Carl Starfelt to form a stable central defensive pairing in the long run. Greg Taylor should retain the left-back spot with Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo nowhere close to resurrecting his Celtic career.
A 4-2-3-1 should see skipper Callum McGregor partnering Ismaila Soro as a double pivot. The void left by Scott Brown can’t be filled overnight and the duo must live up to expectations against the Czech outfit. Soro is expected to marshall the backline from his deep-lying midfield role, whereas McGregor should operate as the chief ball carrier to instigate counter-attacks.
Despite scoring a goal on his debut, Postecoglou must not include Liel Abada into the side week in week out. He should rather opt for James Forrest down the right-hand flank, however, the sparks exhibited by Kyogo Furuhashi against Hearts might have convinced the ex-Socceroos chief to hand the attacker his first Celtic start. The Japanese wideman is likely to occupy the left-wing slot, but the creativity of David Turnbull as an outright ‘number 10’ should shape things up in terms of attacking threats.
The future of Odsonne Edouard is still uncertain even though a move to Leicester City collapsed last month. The Frenchman is far from his best in these early fixtures and it is to be seen now whether he reclaims his lost charm while spearheading the Hoops’ attack.