Predicted Celtic XI vs Copenhagen (H): Tom Rogic and Leigh Griffiths to start

By David Walton

February 27, 2020

Celtic are set to take on FC Copenhagen tonight in their Europa League last-32 second leg contest at Parkhead.

The Hoops have a slight advantage heading into the game thanks to a fine 1-1 draw in Denmark. Odsonne Edouard could’ve had a hat-trick on the night, but it’s his goal coupled with Dame N’Doye’s second-half equaliser that levels this one up.

Odsonne Edouard vs Copenhagen (Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

The second-leg at Parkhead, however, must be treated with respect. Nothing has been won yet, and Neil Lennon will need to take extra care with his team selection this evening.

Here, we take a look at how we think the XI will line-up.

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Three changes from Sunday

We don’t expect Lennon to go with a back four, not judging by his latest comments from his presser. When questioned on the 3-5-2 formation, the manager stated “possibly, yes” (Celtic TV).

We predict that’s the way Lennon will go. Therefore, it’ll be the same system that was in place against Kilmarnock on Sunday. The only difference is the personnel.

Jozo Simunovic started against Kilmarnock, and despite growing into the game, he made a horrendous first-half error to give away the penalty. Jozo remains a useful squad player to have, but too often does he have these clumsy moments.

Nir Bitton in action (Paul Ursachi/MB Media/Getty Images)

The one thing we can’t afford tonight is another clumsy barge to give Copenhagen real hope. So we’re going to say that Nir Bitton makes a start tonight after a decent display against Aberdeen in his last full outing. He can make the odd casual back-pass, but he’s a lot more efficient in the challenge than Jozo.

In addition to that, we’re going to say that James Forrest comes in to take the place of Jeremie Frimpong. With Forrest fit to play, it makes sense to go with our best winger. Frimpong, meanwhile, didn’t look too comfortable in the right wing-back spot in Denmark last week. His time will come.

The captain to return

The third and final change from Sunday will be Scott Brown coming in for Ryan Christie. With Christie suspended, it makes sense to slot Brown back into the centre of that midfield five.

Celtic captain Scott Brown (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Yet, with Olivier Ntcham sidelined, we’re going with Tom Rogic to be given his shot. The Scottish Sun reported yesterday morning that he was being penciled in for a start. It would be wise to have another attacking threat in there given Christie’s suspension. If he does start, it will be Rogic’s first European start of the season.

Once again the onus will be on Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths up top to bring a spark. Griffiths wasn’t fit to featured in Denmark, but he could make up for lost time after scoring against Kilmarnock on Sunday.

Below is our predicted XI in list form for what will hopefully be another big night for the club:

GK – Fraser Forster

RCB – Nir Bitton

CB – Christopher Jullien

LCB – Kristoffer Ajer

RWB – James Forrest

CM – Scott Brown

CM – Callum McGregor

CM – Tom Rogic

LWB – Greg Taylor

ST – Leigh Griffiths

ST – Odsonne Edouard