Celtic predicted lineup vs Hearts: 3-5-2 system to return

By David Walton

February 12, 2020

Celtic secured their place in the Scottish Cup last eight thanks to a 3-0 win at Clyde on Sunday, but attentions now turn back to league duty.

The Hoops have built up a healthy seven-point gap at the top of the Premiership thanks to their stunning form since returning from the winter break. Five successive wins has proven too much for rivals Rangers to handle, and our sizzling form doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon.

But it was indeed Daniel Stendel’s Hearts who helped give us this advantage in the title race to begin with. His side’s 2-1 win against Rangers at Tynecastle suggests they can’t be taken lightly. They also gave us a tough time of it at Tynecastle back in December in our 2-0 success, managing to equal our shots accumulation of 13 (BBC).

Hearts boss Daniel Stendel (Ewan Bootman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Hearts haven’t managed a win at Parkhead since 2009, but taking them seriously is always a must. With experienced pros such as Liam Boyce, Steven Naismith, and John Souttar in their ranks, you can never expect an easy game against them.

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So, because of that, don’t expect many of Neil Lennon’s fringe players to stay in the team tonight.

Six changes and a formation change

We’re expecting six changes to be made just as there was for the game against Clyde. What that means is that the same team that beat Motherwell 4-0 last week will play once again against the Jambos.

Mohamed Elyounoussi seriously impressed in the Clyde match. He made some positive runs down the left flank and grew into the contest the longer it went on.

The problem with Mo is where he fits in when you play with a 3-5-2. We expect Neil to change the system back to the format that’s proved so successful for us since our return from the winter break. Because of that, we expect Elyounoussi to drop down to the bench to allow Callum McGregor to come back into the midfield.

Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

For me, joining Mo in dropping out will be Scott Bain, Boli Bolingoli, Moritz Bauer, Ryan Christie, and Patryk Klimala. That means returns for Fraser Forster, Greg Taylor, Jozo Simunovic, Callum McGregor, Odsonne Edouard, and Leigh Griffiths respectively.

It’s just a case of not trying to fix what isn’t broken just now. Rotation will continue to occur regularly to give players opportunities to rest. The Clyde game was a prime example of that. Tonight, however, it’s time to bring out our top guns once again.

Here’s how we believe the team will line-up as we look to consolidate our position at the top of the Premiership:

GK – Fraser Forster

RCB – Jozo Simunovic

CB – Christopher Jullien

LCB – Kristoffer Ajer

RWB: James Forrest

CM – Scott Brown

CM – Callum McGregor

CM – Olivier Ntcham

LWB: Greg Taylor

ST – Odsonne Edouard

ST – Leigh Griffiths