Celtic are on a dismal run of form. You know this, we know this, the club know this.
Against A.C. Milan, we’re expected to take another heavy defeat against an organised, on-form opponent. The Rossoneri need a win tonight to all but secure progression in Europe’s second-tier tournament.
Stefano Pioli’s men are as yet unbeaten domestically, and have already punished Celtic in the competition.
In a 3-1 loss, the Bhoys at least showed some character. A second half formational change worked and Uruguayan international Diego Laxalt performed with intensity, the likes of which has been largely missing since, throughout the squad.
Celtic have nothing to lose here, and much to gain. There have been disappointing performances across the team, but here are 3 players who really need to impress against A.C. Milan. This isn’t to say that these players have been poor, but they could certainly do with big displays that would lift both their teammates and the supporters.
Barkas has had an unfortunate start to life at Celtic, with patchy form and a back injury leading to Scott Bain temporarily taking his place.
Bain, however, could not capitalise. After Celtic’s second defeat to Sparta Prague, Barkas retook his rightful spot in the first team.
Having kept 5 clean sheets in 9 league appearances, dropping the Greek international seemed harsh. Although Barkas’ distribution needs improvement, it’s clear that there’s plenty of talent for Stevie Woods to work with. His shot-stopping and command of his area are key attributes (Glasgow Times).
Admittedly, he could’ve done better against Rangers, but you could blame that result on so many factors that it seems trite to lay all of the responsibility on the Greek international.
With A.C. Milan averaging a staggering 16.9 shots a game (WhoScored?) in Serie A, you’d expect Barkas to have plenty of work tonight in the San Siro. This could be a big night for the stopper to earn some much-needed respect amongst the Celtic fans.
There’s no one better, he’s like me and you. He loves Celtic too.
Callum McGregor is probably already a Celtic legend, given his integral role in the club’s success in recent seasons. Assured with the ball at his feet, with an eye for a pass and an impressive defensive work-rate, McGregor is an established figure in Paradise.
It’s just not really happened for him this season, though. While we’re not calling for him to be dropped, he has looked laboured at times in 20-21.
Against Sparta Prague, he looked lost. This season, in the 3-5-2, he has found himself out wide on the left for large spells, where he has been ineffective in comparison to his usual output.
Next to Scott Brown, there has been a lack of industry, with Celtic struggling to create chances and progress the ball meaningfully from the middle.
Celtic’s reliance on Mohammed Elyounoussi and Diego Laxalt on the left side of the pitch indicate a problem in the centre of the park. As one of Celtic’s most reliable players of the last decade, it’s on McGregor to take his share of the responsibility.
A beloved player and a fan favourite? No doubt. But tonight is a big game for CalMac. If he puts in an assured performance against the Serie A table toppers, it will do his confidence a world of good.
Despite scoring 2 in his last 3, there’s pressure on Odsonne Edouard. Heavily linked with a move away from Celtic in the summer, French Eddy has missed matches this season, and still doesn’t look 100% match fit.
Given his heroics over the last two seasons, anything less than excellence from French Eddy seems catastrophic. He’s Celtic’s talisman. He irks Charlie Nicholas. He has his own goal music. He’s central to the good things this Celtic side does.
He showed a glimpse of his incredible quality against Sparta Prague (BT Sport), weaving past defenders to slot home for what would be a consolation goal for the Bhoys. Celtic can’t solely rely on him being able to do that every game, but he’s certainly key to any chance of a Green and White revival.
A big-game player who scores in bunches, Edouard has been off the boil along with his colleagues in 20-21. Although a starting place seems assured whenever he’s fit, he still has Ajeti, Griffiths and Klimala snapping at his heels.
Forced to accommodate a strike partner as readily as he’s asked to lead the line, the French U-21 star has to take any opportunities he finds tonight. Chances may come at a premium for the Bhoys in the Europa League tonight, but Edouard’s striking proficiency has been on display countless times before.
If we can get a big game out of Eddy tonight, it’ll put some joy back into the hearts of Hoops fans everywhere.