Celtic might have a seven-point cushion over third-placed Rangers in the Scottish Premiership standings, but they must focus on improving their abysmal European form before hosting Lazio on Wednesday night. Nine men Hoops suffered a 2-0 defeat against Feyenoord in their opening Champions League contest, and the gaffer Brendan Rodgers must pull the rabbit out of the hat with backing from the home crowd despite injuries and suspensions.
Meanwhile, showed sheer grit and determination against Atletico Madrid to claim a 1-1 draw thanks to a dramatic injury-time equalizer from goalkeeper Ivan Provedel. However, they are struggling in the wrong half of the Serie A standings and their lack of form so far this season should be put to use by the champions of Scotland to keep their knockout hopes alive.
Predicted 4-3-3 Celtic Lineup To Face Lazio
Despite a promising performance against Motherwell, Joe Hart remains the Celts’ ‘number 1 1’ across competitions. He missed the weekend tie due to suspension, but his availability in Europe should see him keeping his place for this midweek encounter.
Besides injuries to Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stephen Welsh, Maik Nawrocki and Yuki Kobayashi, Celtic will further miss the service of Gustaf Lagerbielke following a marching order versus Feyenoord. Nevertheless, Nat Phillips is back in action and the Liverpool loanee is expected to partner with Liam Scales in the heart of the backline. Alistair Johnston down the right and Greg Taylor from the left-hand side offer more balance between attack and defence compared to the other fullback options.
Odin Thiago Holm is also ineligible after being sent off at De Kuip. But the Norwegian is way down the pecking order with Matt O’Riley, Reo Hatate and David Turnbull all ahead of him among the ‘number 8s’ available for selection. Hatate and O’Riley are likely to operate box-to-box, but the expertise of skipper Callum McGregor would be crucial in terms of orchestrating the midfield battle against the likes of Matías Vecino, Daichi Kamada, Matteo Guendouzi and Luis Alberto.
The injury of Liel Abada is a massive blow as they lack pace and prowess on the right. Veteran James Forrest might get the nod, but the left-wing role belongs to Daizen Maeda who has become a fans’ favourite for his immense work rate week in, and week out. Kyogo Furuhashi must spearhead the attack even though his numbers have slowed down a bit in recent fixtures. Luis Palma, Yang Hyun-Jun, Mikey Johnston and Oh Hyeon-gyu could be involved as second-half substitutes as the understudy to the first-team stars.