Predicted Celtic XI vs Valencia (A)

By David Walton

February 19, 2019

When Celtic pitch up at the Mestalla Stadium on Thursday night, they’ll have one almighty task ahead of them.

In essence, this is just a free shot this week against Valencia. The La Liga giants are already 2-0 ahead on aggregate after their convincing Celtic Park win. The Europa League last-16 beckons for them, whilst elimination is nearly a certainty for the Hoops.

But that won’t stop Brendan Rodgers and his men from giving it a right good go in Spain this week. The match also comes hot on the heels of a morale-boosting win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

And after Celtic extended their lead at the top, we have a look and a stab at the predicted team for Thursday night.

Celtic fans are buzzing, and for good reason (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

A new dawn beckons for Celtic in Europe, as Joe Hart shows his class once again

Scott Bain saw his clean sheet record wiped out by Valencia last Thursday. The clinical Spaniards ended his run of 12 consecutive matches without conceding. That was thanks to Denis Cheryshev and Ruben Sobrino. Bain will be out for revenge, and will surely start.

Jeremy Toljan didn’t impress against Valencia at Parkhead either. He and Emilio Izaguirre didn’t get up anywhere near enough to support the wide-men. But whilst Toljan is a certainty to feature, Izzy could be dropped for the returned-to-form Jonny Hayes.

Dedryck Boyata and Kristoffer Ajer has to be the partnership to go with after playing at Rugby Park on Sunday too.

Scott Brown will be flying, but we need another captain’s performance on Thursday

Scott Brown was the man of the moment on Sunday (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

If there’s one man coming into this own with some real confidence, it’s Scott Brown. His winner on Sunday sparked mass celebrations in the Rugby Park stands. If ever we need a heroic performance from him, however, it’s Thursday night.

Valencia, meanwhile, shut off the supply to Callum McGregor so well in the first leg. He threatened to make Celtic tick in the first 10 minutes, and will be the man tasked to do the same this week alongside Brown.

Rodgers has also now featured Scott Sinclair and James Forrest in every single European game this season. Expect that run to continue on Thursday, and for us, they’ll both start.

Ryan Christie has been off-form for a short while. Despite goals against St Johnstone and Hibernian, his overall displays haven’t been of the standard required.

Ryan Christie needs to start finding some form again (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Yet, with Tom Rogic still sidelined, there are not many replacements that could fill the number 10 slot. Therefore, it’s difficult to go with anything other than Christie keeping his place.

Odsonne Edouard failed to take his chance in a quiet display at Rugby Park. He was substituted after 69 minutes, and the electric Oliver Burke showed his pace and power for the remaining 20.

Despite Burke starting and struggling in the first leg, he still gets our vote for another run-out at the Mestalla.

Expect the likes of Timothy Weah and Edouard to come on as Celtic throw caution to the wind late on.

Here’s our full starting XI in list form:

GK – Scott Bain

RB – Jeremy Toljan

CB – Kristoffer Ajer

CB – Dedryck Boyata

LB – Jonny Hayes

CM – Scott Brown

CM – Callum McGregor

RM – James Forrest

CAM – Ryan Christie

LM – Scott Sinclair

ST – Oliver BUrke