Welsh returns, crucial midfield call; Celtic Predicted XI v Ferencvaros
Here we go again, we’re on the road again, with Celtic in Hungary to face Ferencvaros for a vital Europa League tie.
This time, it’s not at 3.30pm in the afternoon. Celtic return to the usual Europa League slot, on a Thursday night. Without supporters in attendance at the Groupama Arena, it’s going to be a big ask for Postecoglou’s Bhoys, but we’ve beaten this mob before.
How did Celtic get that victory? A lot of it was down to excellent defending. Carl Starfelt and Cameron Carter-Vickers combined well in the middle of defence. Adam Montgomery, criticised on the night, was actually effective in his pressing, helping in the move that ended with Kyogo’s sublime goal.
So, it’ll need to be an energetic display of high pressing, constant movement and the ability to win the ball in our own half. At home, that’s probably easier. In a hostile atmosphere, perhaps not so much.
That gives this game’s predicted XI an interesting hue. Let’s dive into it.
A reshuffled defence for Celtic Predicted XI against Ferencvaros
With Joe Hart recapturing some of his peak form, he’ll have to get used to a different pair leading the defence this time out. Cameron Carter-Vickers will undoubtedly start, but we’re backing Stephen Welsh to play alongside him.
While you could move Nir Bitton back, it makes more sense to have an aggressive presser of the ball like Welsh in the defence. Equally, he’s shown improvement in his aerial game, and it’s a big opportunity for him to cause a longer-term headache for Ange Postecoglou.
On the left, it’s a case of “If it ain’t broke…”. Josip Juranovic, who’s been beaming about the camaraderie shown at Celtic, will start. On the right, who else but newly-minted Holy Brickie Anthony Ralston? [Celtic FC]
Head versus heart time for Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou against Ferencvaros
Given how instrumental Callum McGregor was as a number 6 against Ferencvaros a fortnight ago, surely the temptation would be to start him there again.
Ah, but; this is where the key weakness in the Celtic squad lies. Without Tom Rogic, there aren’t many viable options to sit next to David Turnbull. The double number 10 system, derided rightfully earlier in the season, had started to click. Primarily, because McGregor was doing such a good job sitting deeper.
However, it’s hard to imagine Postecoglou not using McGregor further up. Nir Bitton is our pick to come in to the side, as he did against Livingston at the weekend, and Aberdeen a few weeks ago.
It’s got to a head v heart battle for Postecoglou. He’d surely want to go attacking with McGregor pulling the strings. But seemingly, the personnel aren’t available to do that.
Celtic Predicted XI: Pick the three that did the damage last time
That goal, lads. Jota picking it up in his own half, delivering a pinpoint long-ball to Kyogo, who takes it down beautifully with his first touch, and puts it away with his second. Lush.
Let’s hope the pair can recreate that, because they’ll be starting tonight. While Liel Abada has gone off the boil in recent games, Ferencvaros allow enough space for the Israel international to give the Hungarians substantial problems defending their byline.
It’s the trio that’s worked best for Celtic this season; why change it? With all three available, with Mikey Johnston, Giorgos Giakoumakis and James Forrest capable of making an impact off the bench, our attacking options are excellent.
Let’s hope they’re on it tonight, in a vital game for Celtic in the Europa League.