For the first time in 10 months, Celtic get set to take on Rangers in a Glasgow derby at Saturday lunchtime. As we all know by now, it will be a derby unlike any other. The reason for that – no fans.
The support is one of the biggest elements of these games, and it is going to be watching the game with all those empty stands. Still, that does not mean that the game is not still vitally important to the Hoops.
Victory would be huge psychological boost
A win for Celtic would put the Hoops top of the league, and be a hammer blow psychologically to the Ibrox men, especially as Celtic will have some vital players missing.
With all that in mind, here is the team we predict will be lining up to face Rangers on Saturday. The Hoops will play in the usual 3-5-2 formation.
In goals, there is only one option – Vasilis Barkas. He has had a more than decent start to his Celtic career. However, this will probably be the biggest test yet.
Selecting the three defenders is where things get slightly tricky. There is no Nir Bitton or Hatem Elhamed to chose from, as both players are self-isolating. Bitton might well have played if not for the Covid-19 diagnosis. Therefore, we predict that Kristoffer Ajer will keep his place in the side, Christopher Jullien will make his return and there will be a first derby experience for Shane Duffy. Hopefully he is able to head home a goal or two.
New Bhoy to start
Now on to the wing-backs. Jeremie Frimpong is a cert to play on the right. On the left though, Neil Lennon has a choice – Greg Taylor, or Diego Laxalt? We are going for Diego Laxalt on this occasion. It might be his first game for the Hoops, but how will we know how good he is unless he is picked for the biggest matches? Laxalt to start.
The midfield. Two of the players pick themselves – Callum McGregor and Scott Brown. They will be as important as ever for Celtic. Who plays alongside the duo will be interesting.
It is still uncertain if Callum McGregor will take part in the game. However, his record against Rangers hasn’t been that. Tom Rogic is also available, however, we are going for Olivier Ntcham to get the nod. He could dominate the game if he is in the mood.
Now we move on to the strikers. Albian Ajeti is fit again, so he starts. Now who to play alongside him? Leigh Griffiths and Patryk Klimala are available, and Odsonne Edouard is back in the country. However, we are going for Mo Elyounoussi to start in a second striker role, but playing behind Ajeti, where can get the ball in the space between the midfield and the attack.
Predicted XI: Vasilis Barkas, Christopher Jullien, Shane Duffy, Kristoffer Ajer, Jeremie Frimpong, Scott Brown, Callum McGregor, Diego Laxalt, Olivier Ntcham, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Albian Ajeti.