Despite a commanding weekend win against Hearts, Celtic remain the underdogs ahead of hosting Atletico Madrid for their upcoming Champions League fixture. Brendan Rodgers has failed to replicate his side’s domestic form in European competitions, and the Wednesday night tie could once again end up in disappointment unless the Hoops punch above the weight in their own backyard.
The Rojiblancos are enjoying a blistering La Liga run but, at the same time, have struggled to find their rhythm in Europe. They came back twice from behind to clinch an edgy win against Feyenoord at Estadio Metropolitano. In contrast, the contest against Lazio ended 1-1 following a dramatic injury-time equalizer from the latter’s custodian Ivan Provedel. Yet they remain favourites to be the group winners, unlike Celtic who are likely to remain rock-bottom given their dismal European form.
Predicted 4-3-3 Celtic Lineup To Face Atletico Madrid
Rodgers is tipped to keep his faith in Joe Hart who has been the Celts ‘number 1’ since Ange Postecoglou’s tenure as the Celtic chief. But the veteran Englishman is supposed to have a busy outing against the lethal and in-form Atletico attackers.
Although Stephen Welsh and Maik Nawrocki are still recovering from their respective injury woes, the Hoops now have ample depth in the heart of the backline. Gustaf Lagerbielke is back again following his one-game suspension, but the Swedish centre-half might find his place among the substitutes as the understudy to Cameron Carter-Vickers and Liam Scales. Nat Phillips, too, must wait for his opportunities after a difficult start to life at Parkhead. Alistair Johnston remains the first choice for the right-back spot, whereas Greg Taylor continues to be the only available option down the left due to the omission of Alexandro Bernabei from the Champions League squad.
Celtic have a stable three-man midfield with little scope for experiment from their Northern Irish boss. Skipper Callum McGregor must drive the show from his deep-lying midfield role and his vision and game-reading traits would help Matt O’Riley and Reo Hatate operate box-to-box and link up in and around the attacking third. Having said that. the Scotsman might focus more on screening the defensive third over staging counter-attacking threats by carrying the ball forward. David Turnbull, Paulo Bernardo and Tomoki Iwata could get involved from the bench as the second-half substitutes.
Kyogo Furuhashi is irreplaceable high up the pitch for his prolific poaching threat. Daizen Maeda, exquisite so far with his work rate and flexibility down the flanks, is expected to occupy the right-wing role to make way for Luis Palma on the left. Liel Abada is ruled out with a thigh strain, but the likes of Oh Hyeon-gyu, Yang Hyun-jun, Mikey Johnston and James Forrest are there to offer depth across the frontline.