Predicted Celtic XI vs Motherwell (A)

By David Walton

August 9, 2019

Motherwell v Celtic has tended to be a real troublesome fixture for the Hoops in recent times.

We haven’t won any of our last three trips to Fir Park. However, by far the most painful was certainly our last meeting there back in December. A Ryan Christie strike in the first half had Celtic cruising. Leigh Griffiths then missed a penalty before the break, however, and tensions rose. A stoppage-time equaliser from Danny Johnston halted Celtic from going top of the league on the night, and it left a bitter taste in the mouth.

The previous two meetings at Fir Park have also ended in stalemates too. Even though we haven’t lost to the Steelmen since Mark McGhee’s side won 2-1 at Parkhead back in December 2015, they’ve still given us plenty of issues.

Stephen Robinson’s Motherwell can be a pain to play against (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

So as we look to make it two wins from two this season in the Premiership, Neil Lennon must get it right on the park. Here, we have a go at his starting XI for the mouth-watering clash.

The team

Scott Bain didn’t look too clever in Cluj on Thursday night. He was far too easily beaten for the goal, and didn’t command his box well from Cluj’s dangerous set-pieces. Saturday gives him a chance to get some confidence back into his gloves.

Hatem Abd Elhamed put in a stunning display in Romania on Thursday night, however. That followed up another promising display against St Johnstone on his debut last weekend in our 7-0 rout. Fans are certainly taking to him after Thursday night, and he seems another certainty to start.

Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo, however, couldn’t be further from some fans’ good books. He was absolutely shocking in Romania, and looked totally sapped of any confidence he may have had when he joined. Hopefully, this was just a one-off, and he can provide a more comfortable display like he produced against Nomme Kalju and St Johnstone respectively.

Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo definitely needs some consistency under his belt to convince supporters (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

In the two centre-back spots, we’re going for one of two domestic debuts. Jozo Simunovic’s suspension surely opens the door for Christopher Jullien to make only his second start in green-and-white. Alongside him, of course, is the incredibly consistent Kristoffer Ajer.

Scott Brown and Callum McGregor don’t usually get dropped, but for us we’re going to predict the CalMac gets another rest. Celtic came in for some criticism for highlighting McGregor playing more minutes than anyone else in world football. They could do with showing they have no intentions of burning him out this season.

That means a return to the team for Olivier Ntcham. The Frenchman has put in some fantastic displays from the bench since returning. Now, he looks ready for his first Premiership start.

Our second of two domestic debuts comes for Marian Shved. James Forrest may have netted that crucial away goal in Cluj, but he’s another who doesn’t need to start and should be rested for the second-leg. Hopefully, the Ukrainian gets his chance to shine.

Lewis Morgan could easily get another start (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Down the left, we’ll go for Lewis Morgan should Mikey Johnston miss out. Morgan didn’t impress everyone on Thursday night, but he deserves a chance to right any wrongs this weekend.

Ryan Christie is another to arguably fall into that bracket. The former Aberdeen and Inverness star was quiet in Romania, but he scored on our last visit to Fir Park. He’ll be itching to do so again.

And another change could result up top. Odsonne Edouard ran himself into the ground on Thursday night. Leigh Griffiths, meanwhile, was an unused substitute. Griff will have bad memories of his penalty miss in North Lanarkshire back in December. It’s time for him to rectify that moment.

As always, here’s tour predicted team in list form:

GK – Scott Bain

RB – Hatem Abd Elhamed

CB – Christopher Jullien

CB – Kristoffer Ajer

LB – Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo

CM – Scott Brown

CM – Olivier Ntcham

RM – Marian Shved

CAM – Ryan Christie

LM – Lewis Morgan

ST – Leigh Griffiths