Predicted XI vs Lille: Lennon to give Turnbull his first ever Celtic Euro start

By David Walton

December 9, 2020

Oh great. It’s that time of the week again – the bit where we have to play some football. And in Europe no less.

Yes, we wrap up this absolutely atrocious Europa League group with a dead-rubber against Lille. Oh, it’s only a dead rubber for us mind. The Ligue 1 side can still top the group should they win at Parkhead, and they’ll be going all out to do so.

Christophe Galtier’s side second in Ligue 1 and only two points behind PSG. In Europe they’ve been magnificent, with three wins and two draws to their name.

In order for Lennon to repeat the performance we produced in France six weeks ago (when Celtic drew 2-2 vs Lille), the right team simply must be picked. Here, we take a look at the predicted XI.

Turnbull’s big moment

In goals, it’s going to be Vasilis Barkas in my view. He didn’t do anything wrong against St Johnstone (albeit there was nothing for him to make a mess of). He’ll keep his place, but the lack of confidence we have in him to keep a clean sheet is a massive concern.

Hatem Elhamed has reportedly made it clear he’s unsettled at Parkhead with his family still in Israel. What will happen in January will happen, but we think he’ll start tomorrow night. at right-bacl

Diego Laxalt has unfortunately seen his performances dip, but there is still no place in the team for Greg Taylor. Lennon will stick with the Uruguayan so long as he’s under such massive waves of pressure.

The central defensive slots really are anybody’s at the moment. Lennon has tried a variety of different combinations but absolutely nothing has worked over the past couple of months. Even so, we need to try and stop the leakage, with a scandalous 28 goals conceded since the 2-0 loss to Rangers.

Celtic defender Christopher Jullien could play against Lille (Photo by Alan Harvey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

In a bid to halt that, we think Lennon will switch back to a defensive partnership of Christopher Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer.

Now then. Call this optimistic or maybe even delusional, but Lennon is up against it and we think, given he’s just been given the dreaded vote of confidence, that David Turnbull will get a long-awaited start alongside Callum McGregor. That means Scott Brown is finally dropped for a series of poor performances. Olivier Ntcham also gets nowhere near our starting XI given how under-par he’s been too.

Jeremie Frimpong was a real menace in France with a fine assist and consistently looked like our most dangerous counter-attacking option. Expect him to start down the right flank.

Tom Rogic can’t be dropped at the moment either given he’s still one of our most creative players. Rogic is also still fresh off a fine finish at the San Siro.

On the left side, we’re predicting that Lennon brings back the scourge of Lille – Moi Elyounoussi. The Norwegian arguably saved Lennon’s job with his late equaliser against St Johnstone at Parkhead on Sunday.

Up top it’ll be Odsonne Edouard on his own. Don’t expect Lennon to go with a two-striker system given the opposition and the circumstances.

Predicted XI: Vasilis Barkas, Hatem Elhamed, Christopher Jullien, Kristoffer Ajer, Diego Laxalt, David Turnbull, Callum McGregor, Jeremie Frimpong, Tom Rogic, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Odsonne Edouard.