Celtic have enjoyed an easy ride so far en route to defending their League Cup crown. After a thumping win against Motherwell in the quarterfinal, the Hoops are set to lock horns with Kilmarnock on Saturday afternoon at Hampden Park. The winner of this weekend’s tie would face either Rangers or Aberdeen in a high-profile final.
These two sides locked horns only a week ago when the Celts registered a routine 2-0 victory at Parkhead. But the East Ayrshire won’t go down without a fight, particularly after eliminating Hearts and Dundee United in the previous rounds. They are battling for their Premiership survival, however, a win against the reigning champions would be the icing on the cake as well as a morale boost for the remainder of the season.
Predicted 4-3-3 Celtic Lineup vs Kilmarnock
Summer signing Benjamin Siegrist has been the Bhoys’ Cup goalkeeper so far this season. He should keep his place between the sticks ahead of Joe Hart and help his side reach the League Cup final.
Fullback pair Anthony Ralston and Greg Taylor continue to be sidelined with injury problems. Winter signings Alistair Johnston and Tomoki Iwata are decent alternatives down the side, but the Hoops boss Ange Postecoglou should deploy in-demand right fullback Josip Juranovic who is drawing interest from a host of European hotshots following a scintillating World Cup campaign for Croatia. Alexandro Bernabei played a decent game versus Killie, and therefore, should keep his place for the upcoming contest. Cameron Carter-Vickers is expected to take charge of the defensive third, but it remains to be seen whether the gaffer restores Moritz Jenz to replace Carl Starfelt. Stephen Welsh is ruled out with a knock, however, the other winter recruit Yuki Kobayashi could find a spot among substitutes.
Celtic have ample options in the centre of the pitch. But the Aussie boss should stick with skipper Callum McGregor given his ability to pull the strings as a deep-lying playmaker. Aaron Mooy is enjoying a great run of form and his creative spark along with box-to-box movements would help them dominate the midfield battle. David Turnbull might grab a start to exhibit his attacking flair, whereas the likes of Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley could get involved in the second half.
Sead Haksabanovic is a major doubt for Saturday with a foot injury. But the champions of Scotland are well-equipped down the wide with James Forrest, Daizen Maeda, Filipe Jota and Liel Abada challenging each other for first-team roles. Abada and Maeda should get the nod, but the hitman Kyogo Furuhashi must spearhead the attack ahead of Giorgos Giakoumakis.