Heading into tonight’s clash with Copenhagen, a big question mark remained about what system Celtic would play.
Would we go with the attack-minded 3-5-2 and look to take the game to the Danes? Or would we revert back to the 4-2-3-1 to give both the defence and our flanks a bit of protection?
Even 24 hours before the game it was a bit of a mystery. Neil Lennon stated in his pre-match presser via Celtic TV that he has a fair idea of what system he wants to play tonight. He, understandably, wouldn’t reveal what that system is of course.
However, one particular injury blow from yesterday has effectively given it away. Indeed, Leigh Griffiths has been left in Glasgow after picking up a knock in training (Celtic TV).
Griffiths has been Odsonne Edouard’s partner in the 3-5-2 system, with the duo scoring 11 goals in nine games since our return to action.
No Griffiths replacement up top
If Lennon was to stay with the 3-5-2 tonight, that would mean that either Patryk Klimala or Vakoun Bayo would need to start alongside Edouard. Neither man has made an impact since the winter break – leaving their chances of a start tonight highly unlikely.
The fact is that Celtic can’t bank on Bayo or Klimala turning up. Neither man has given us any reason to believe that he’ll make a similar impact to Griffiths. There is the option of playing Ryan Christie as a second striker, but that also seems like it would be stretching it.
Therefore, almost by default, the 4-2-3-1 should be deployed in Copenhagen tonight. That would leave Edouard in a more familiar lone striker’s role – something he’s been used to since coming to the club.
There also aren’t many concerns about Edouard’s ability to perform in the role. If it was the Frenchman who was out and it was Griff on his own, that would be more concerning. Griff needs a partner playing alongside him much more than Eddy.
In terms of the back-up to Edouard, it’ll be interesting to see whether Griffiths’ injury leads to a place in the squad for either Bayo or Klimala. Both men have continued to be frozen out under the current partnership, but tonight could be a big night for either/or if they get game-time later on.
Don’t expect it to come from the start though. Lennon shouldn’t be playing players he isn’t 100% sure on tonight. Bayo and Klimala, as things currently stand, fall into that category.