A spirited show at Estadio Benito Villamarín went in vain as disastrous defending cost Celtic severely in their Europa League defeat against Real Betis. Despite earning a 2-0 lead in the early minutes, the Hoops ended up losing 4-3 on Thursday evening. But they must regroup themselves without further delay ahead of Sunday’s Premiership test against Livingston at the Spaghettihad.
Livi defied the odds last season under David Martindale and secured a top-half league finish. They made it to the League Cup final earlier this year, but a dismal start to the 2021-22 campaign has placed them rock-bottom in the standings. A stalemate against Dundee last weekend has been the only point earned so far after four successive defeats, and the gaffer must motivate his men to script a resurgence in the upcoming gameweeks.
Predicted 4-3-3 Celtic Lineup To Face Livingston
Joe Hart does not have a resolute defensive line to shield him between the sticks. He has made some key saves so far since securing the ‘number 1’ role and must prepare himself for another busy afternoon against Livingston.
Anthony Ralston was catastrophic versus Betis but should still retain his right-back role, having impressed so far in the domestic outings. The coordination and chemistry must grow between Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt as the gaffer Ange Postecoglou is counting on the duo to cement their place in the heart of the defence. Josip Juranovic should continue as a makeshift left fullback due to the absence of Greg Taylor. The Scotsman’s recurring shoulder injury is a worrying sign with a long season ahead.
Skipper Callum McGregor missed the midweek tie with a knock. The decision to deploy Ismaila Soro in the centre of the park did serious damage to their balance and transition. The manager was forced to take the Ivorian off in the second half, and it’s high time Postecoglou starts utilising James McCarthy’s experience from the start. Tom Rogic and David Turnbull must offer their creative spark with set-pieces, crosses, through balls and attacking expertise from in and around the Livingston box.
Albian Ajeti has been astounding as the ‘number 9’ since replacing injured Kyogo Furuhashi high up the pitch. James Forrest is yet to regain full fitness, but the Bhoys would be boosted by Liel Abada’s return, who missed the Betis game for religious reasons. The teenager should feature from his usual right-wing slot, whereas the impressive Felipe Jota might switch the flank to operate from the left. Adam Montgomery should be introduced at some stage, but it is to be seen now whether Ange hands Georgios Giakoumakis his debut this weekend.