Expect the unexpected: Celtic Predicted XI against Charlton Athletic
Given that it’s pre-season, making a Celtic Predicted XI is hardly an exact science. But that said, we nearly got Wednesday’s one right.
It was an odd format for a match, against Sheffield Wednesday. We saw two entirely different XIs across three periods. Tomorrow’s meeting with Charlton Athletic should be more familiar in terms of structure, but there’ll be plenty of chopping and changing throughout either way.
That doesn’t mean we can’t gleam some info before a game, and make some bold predictions for Ange Postecoglou’s second team-sheet as Celtic boss. Fine, these won’t count as proper “appearances” for the players chosen. And sure, any goals they score won’t count in their season tallies.
However, it’s good fun, isn’t it? Let’s get to picking a team, shall we?
A solid base for our Predicted XI
Based on how Celtic lined up against Sheffield Wednesday, I think we’re unlikely to see too many changes. Vasilis Barkas will most probably retain his number 1 jersey, albeit with incredibly low stakes.
Ahead of him, a defence of Adam Montgomery, Stephen Welsh, Dane Murray and Lee O’Connor should get the nod to start. Montgomery is coming on leaps and bounds, even in limited appearances. Welsh is, depending on your point of view, our best available centre-back, while Dane Murray showed he’s more than capable.
I’d be surprised if Lee O’Connor didn’t start ahead of Anthony Ralston. Again, not that it necessarily matters. But with no recognised first-choice right-back in the team, and FC Midtjylland not far away, this is a good opportunity to see if O’Connor is capable of making the spot his own, at least for the meantime.
Where the shocks begin…
Now, here’s where it gets interesting.
In the middle, I’m expecting to see a duo of Ismaila Soro and Olivier Ntcham.
Ntcham, who has been spotted in training with the rest of the squad [Celtic FC], could still be valuable to this team. Yes, we could argue all night about how good he is “on his day”, and how often that “day” is. Remember, though, pre-season friendlies are the best way for a manager to get a full assessment of his squad.
It’d be silly, then, not to see Ntcham in action at some point. We all know his pedigree by now, but we’ve also seen the negatives. Don’t expect any kind of blockbuster, memorable performance, but it’ll be a chance to see if Ntcham is motivated enough to get into a rhythm with his teammates.
Just ahead of them, I reckon Tom Rogic will start against Charlton. A favourite of Ange Postecoglou from his time managing Australia, it’s a reunion of sorts, and a decent hour or so from the Socceroo would be very pleasing indeed.
Finishing the Predicted XI in style
After his very sold showing against Sheffield Wednesday, Albian Ajeti will probably feature from the start against Charlton.
The Swiss striker took his goal well, while pressing from the front, and winning the ball back more than once for Celtic. That kind of approach is exactly what Ange Postecoglou wants; quick tempo, counter-pressing off the ball, and establishing moves from high up the park.
On the wings, Owen Moffat is surely the guy fans want to see. Whether he can string together excellent performances will be of real interest to the Hoops faithful. On the other flank, Ewan Henderson showed some flashes of quality late on against the Owls. If he can commit to the left-flank, it solves a considerable headache for Ange Postecoglou.