Celtic Predicted XI vs Riga: 3-5-2 to make its first Euro appearance

By David Walton

September 23, 2020

Celtic are back in Europa League action on Thursday – making their first away trip on the continent this season to Riga.

The pressure is on for the Hoops and against a side who have never been beaten at home in Europe. Celtic will have to end that run to go through as the third qualifying round tie will be a one-legged shootout.

Celtic have drawn Riga in Europa League qualifying / (Photo by Harold Cunningham – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

The prize for the winner will be another trip to either Sarajevo or Buducnost Podgorica in the playoff round. For Celtic’s reputation in European football, making that one is a must.

So here’s the team we’re backing to get the job done and place the first block in our European reputational rebuild.

Back the Bark

Vasilis Barkas will undoubtedly start and will be looking to bounce back from a week in which he conceded three goals in his last two games.

Defensive solidity will be key against a Riga side who like to hit quickly on the counter. Taking that into account, we want to see a formidable-looking back three of Shane Duffy, Christopher Jullien, and Kristoffer Ajer.

We’re going to say that Jeremie Frimpong drops to the bench this week after starting against Livingston on Saturday, meaning that James Forrest and Greg Taylor will operate as the wingbacks.

Will James Forrest shine away from home in Europe again? (Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images)

Lennon will look to manage Scott Brown this season, but this won’t be a game he sits out for. He and Callum McGregor will once again anchor the midfield.

Ryan Christie bagged a goal against Livi on Saturday, and you can therefore expect him to be linking with Odsonne Edouard and Albian Ajeti up top.

Yup, we’re going for Neil Lennon to go with the 3-5-2 for the first time ever in a European match. Considering Riga have never conceded more than one goal at home in Europe, we’ll have to give them hell in the final third to reap our rewards.

Hopefully, Lennon goes for it and doesn’t revert back to a back four. Time will tell, but we think he’ll do the former.

In other news, former Hibernian defender Rob Jones discusses Scott Brown’s transfer to Celtic.