Predicted XI: CeItic vs Stade Rennais (H)

By David Walton

July 12, 2019

Celtic vs Stade Rennais is our order of football for the weekend, and it’s certainly a high-profile friendly.

A friendly is a friendly, we all get that. A win means next to nothing, and it’s all about just getting players’ fitness levels up. Only, tomorrow at Celtic Park, there will be a lot more on the line than that for some.

Neil Lennon told Celtic TV after the 3-1 win over Sarajevo that the clash with the Ligue 1 side is important. The Celtic boss apparently wants to get minutes into the likes of Leigh Griffiths and Christopher Jullien. With big Champions League qualification matches coming up this summer, it’s essential we have as many bodies fit as possible.

Neil Lennon believes tomorrow’s friendly is important (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

But added to that, we also have several players on the fringes who will be looking to make an impact. This game serves as a glorious opportunity to do that. And now, we have an extremely optimistic stab at what we feel the team could be tomorrow afternoon.

The team for Celtic vs Stade Rennais

The natural goalkeeper for this one would be Craig Gordon after Scott Bain got 90 minutes in Sarajevo. It’s absolutely vital that we keep Gordon sharp, as we never know when we may need him. Don’t be too surprised if the likes of Conor Hazard or Ross Doohan get 45 minutes, however.

Anthony Ralston was one of the surprising choices to not play a single minute in Bosnia during the week. That’s a worrying sign for him, but it should add up to him playing in this one against Rennes to keep his match-fitness up.

Anthony Ralston didn’t play at all against Sarajevo (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

At centre-back, it’s a tough one to predict. It appears likely that Jullien will be involved after being name-dropped by Lennon post-Sarajevo. Alongside him, however, could be either Jack Hendry if fit, or maybe even youngster Robbie Deas. Deas scored a beautiful last-minute winner in the Glasgow Cup against Rangers for the development team at the end of last season. As there’s been no update on Hendry, we’ll be optimistic here and say Deas.

Lennon does have a dilemma over whether to go for Andrew Gutman or Calvin Miller at left-back too. Gutman, for us, would be the more intriguing choice, and he looks like he could offer more than Miller if he gets the chance. This is a great opportunity to get another look at him, so we’ll toss him into our predicted XI.

Eboue Kouassi hasn’t played a single minute of pre-season as of yet. Still, however, he was selected in our Champions League squad for the matches against Sarajevo. After not even being in the match-day squad in Bosnia, we’ll go for him to make a surprising appearance against Rennes. Beside him, it would be nice to see young Ewan Henderson get another chance to impress.

Ewan Henderson is still waiting on another chance to shine (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

One of the beauties of Armstrong Oko-Flex is that he can play in a variety of positions along the front-line. Therefore, we’ll go with him to start in the number 10 role, with Karamoko Dembele down the right and Lewis Morgan on the left. We spoke earlier this week about how vital this match could be for Morgan in particular. You can read that piece here.

Up top, Griffiths was another to be name-dropped by Lennon, and it’s therefore foolish not to throw him in. He’ll be looking for his seventh goal of these pre-season friendlies if he does feature.

Below we have the team in list form, as always:

GK – Craig Gordon

RB – Anthony Ralston

CB – Christopher Jullien

CB – Robbie Deas

LB – Andrew Gutman

CM – Eboue Kouassi

CM – Ewan Henderson

RM – Karamoko Dembele

CAM – Armstrong Oko-Flex

LM – Lewis Morgan

ST – Leigh Griffiths