Celtic vs CFR Cluj promises to be perhaps the most intriguing clash in tonight’s Europa League group stages.
There’s plenty at stake when it comes to both professional pride and potential progression to the last-32. Cluj started the group with a stunning 2-1 home win against Lazio. Meanwhile, Celtic picked up a respectable point in Rennes.
Whoever takes the points at Celtic Park tonight will put themselves in an extremely healthy position. A draw, however, most certainly favours the Romanians, and would solidify their solid start to the campaign.
And that’s why Neil Lennon isn’t messing about. There looks like being no experimentation when it comes to his forward-thinking players. Speaking in the Scotsman, Lenny hinted that he’s ready to unleash his key attacking trio tonight.
“They are a really good trio. James is more experienced and while Odsonne and Ryan are still quite young, they are all playing with a decent level of confidence.
“When they’re in full flow, they’re really difficult to stop. They were dynamite in the second half against Cluj that night, but we missed a trick in the first half because we didn’t get the ball forward quickly enough and we didn’t get it into the right areas.
“Allied to those three players in attack, there’s the likes of Chris Jullien, Boli Bolingoli, Kris Ajer, Scott Brown, and Callum McGregor giving us a great platform.”
If this is Lennon’s selection – there are no chances being taken
With Fraser Forster an almost cert to start tonight, Lennon may have pretty much just revealed the majority of his starting XI. And if that is the case, then it’s clear he’s taking no chances against the Romanians.
Every single one of the players mentioned by Lenny is part of our strongest XI. That’s probably indisputable, and it likely means that players such as Olivier Ntcham and Jonny Hayes start the contest on the bench.
There are still question marks over who joins Celtic’s irresistible attacking trio down the left. Lennon was happy to big up Mohamed Elyounoussi at yesterday’s press conference, whilst he also labeled Mikey Johnston a big doubt (Celtic TV). That could lead to a second consecutive Europa League start for Elyounoussi.
Scott Sinclair and Lewis Morgan you would expect will be on the bench, with Craig Gordon the likely back-up to Forster with no fresh update on Scott Bain’s injury.
With Lenny mentioning both Ajer and Jullien, it surely leaves Hatem Abd Elhamed as the natural choice at right-back. With a bit of luck, Nir Bitton comes back into the squad as defensive cover.
And if all of those players play, then that, at the moment, looks like the strongest team Lenny could possibly field.