Potential debuts, Ange surprises; Celtic team news and Predicted XI vs Betis

By Euan Davidson

December 9, 2021

As Celtic prepare to welcome Real Betis to Paradise, let’s be honest – you’re as well throwing darts at a board to predict who Ange Postecoglou is going to pick.

For Celtic, it’s an opportunity of sorts. There’s money to be made – roughly half a million pounds in fact. Factor that in, and the co-efficient boost it could give Celtic in the future, there’s plenty at stake.

That and the very basic fact that we’re a club who enjoy winning games of football. Especially in front of thousands of Celtic supporters.

Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images

All that said, it may be left to a rag-tag bunch of misfits tonight. Or, more diplomatically, the promising collective of fringe and youth players Ange Postecoglou has at his disposal.

Let’s deal first with who’s out. Jota, of course, remains injured after picking up a knock against Hearts. Anthony Ralston and James Forrest will be left out, as will the suspended Cameron Carter-Vickers. Giorgos Giakoumakis remains unavailable, as does Christopher Jullien.

In terms of who could feature, Stephen Welsh has emerged unscathed from last Thursday. Tobi Oluwayemi has featured in the last two Europa League squads, and may be given his chance for a memorable Celtic debut against Betis.

Regardless of the lack of material outcome, there’s still plenty to get excited about here. Ange may throw some totally curveballs, although the likelihood of him starting himself is up for debate.

Let’s have a look at a Predicted XI for Celtic v Betis.

Andrés Iniesta poses with another Celtic target, as ridiculous Hearts whining continues

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Andrés Iniesta poses with another Celtic target, as ridiculous Hearts whining continues
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Celtic Predicted XI v Betis

Starting in goals, there are some interesting storylines here. Will Joe Hart be able to enact some revenge on former manager Manuel Pellegrini? Can the former England no.1 make up for the 4 goals conceded in Andalusia? Could he even wear the armband tonight?

Maybe. But in the first curve-ball of the night, we think Scott Bain could get the nod for Celtic against Betis. Ange Postecoglou seems to like him, and reports suggested a new deal for the shot-stopper was in the works. Could this be the low-stakes outing Bain needs to rebuild his confidence?

In front of him, it’ll be a somewhat different defence. Barring, that is, the inclusion of penalty expert and Croatia international Josip Juranovic. He’ll be next to Carl Starfelt, who’s still building match sharpness after injury, and has played well thus far. Stephen Welsh will join him at centre-back. On the left for Celtic against Betis, a first Celtic start for Irishman Liam Scales.

Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

The midfield is trickier, largely because it’s quite hard to know where everyone is at. At the very least, this kind of game is a good chance for Liam Shaw to make an impression. Either he or Soro could anchor the midfield for Celtic against Betis, but the ex-Sheffield Wednesday man has been waiting patiently.

Ahead of him, we’re thinking it’ll be Callum McGregor and James McCarthy to start, but far less likely to actually see this one out. It’s a great chance for James McCarthy to win over some doubters. If only we had two J League midfielders to provide depth – but that’ll never happen.

Due to injuries, the attack essentially picks itself. Unless Postecoglou gets extremely weird with it, and brings up players from the B Team, it looks more likely that we’ll see Celtic field Albian Ajeti up front, with Mikey Johnston and Liel Abada on the wings.

Ajeti?! I know. His last really good game for Celtic, though, was against a strong Real Betis outfit. There’s still a shot at redemption for the Swiss striker, especially if he gets good service from his wingers.

Read more: Report: Celtic interested in Bundesliga wide man; playing well this season