Predicted Celtic Lineup To Face Astana In UEFA Champions League Playoffs
Celtic will look to confirm their participation in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, when they take on Kazakhstan outfit Astana, in the second leg of the playoff stages, on Tuesday.
The Hoops come into the game with a likely unassailable lead of 5-0, thanks to a wonderful performance last week at the Parkhead. Manager Brendan Rodgers will be hoping that his side show the same clinical edge at the Astana Arena and finish the job off.
Rodgers continues to be without the services of defenders Dedryck Boyata and Erik Sviatchenko, while star striker Moussa Dembele too, is yet to recover. Young midfielder Kouassi Eboue is another absentee as he recovers from an injury that he sustained in the League Cup. Summer signing Jonny Hayes is a doubt as well.
There were concerns over the availability of Nir Bitton, as he seemed to have picked up an injury in the Hoops’ 2-0 win over Kilmarnock FC over the weekend. But the manager has confirmed that he will be available for selection.
Here’s how Celtic could take the field against Astana:
Manager: Brendan Rodgers
Craig Gordon (GK)
The veteran stopper has kept four consecutive clean sheets across all competitions, and another one is expected on Tuesday night.
Mikael Lustig (RB)
The Swede did not start on Saturday, with Rodgers giving the young Anthony Ralston a run out, who impressed heavily. But we could see the senior man return to the starting XI.
Jozo Simunovic (CB)
Another player who was rested for the win over the Killies, the Croatian centre-half is expected to return to the fold on Tuesday.
Kristoffer Ajer (CB)
The 19-year old has impressed each time he has been called upon and made a strong case for a starting berth. Should start ahead of Bitton.
Kieran Tierney (LB)
The 20-year old played as a centre-half over the weekend and looked the part. But, he will return to his natural left-back position against Astana.
Scott Brown (DM)
The captain will sit as the deepest of central midfielders and shield his backline. He will be a vital presence as always.
James Forrest (RW)
With Hayes a doubt for the game, Forrest is expected to move out to the right-hand side of the attack, after having played as a centre-forward on Saturday.
Callum McGregor (CM)
Scored a goal against the Killies and has started off the season brilliantly. Should retain his place in the lineup based on current form.
Tom Rogic (CM)
Was instrumental in Celtic’s win over the weekend, creating both the goals. As a result, he deserves a starting spot ahead of Stuart Armstrong.
Scott Sinclair (LW)
The Englishman, who had scored twice in the first leg against Astana, was rested for the weekend encounter. Should be reinstated on the left flank.
Leigh Griffiths (ST)
The 26-year old was benched for the weekend fixture. Expect him to return to the starting setup for Tuesday’s clash.