After their goalless stalemate against St. Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership fixture on Sunday, Celtic will have to turn their attention to the Europa League as they are due to face Zenit St. Petersburg on Thursday. Having clinched a 1-0 win over Roberto Mancini’s entourage in the first leg, Brendan Rodgers’ men would be aiming to confirm their progress to the Round of 16.
The trip to the Krestovsky Stadium is expected to be a massive challenge for the Celts and here is how we expect the reigning Scottish champions to start against Zenit St. Petersburg.
Dedryck Boyata is expected to miss out, along with the likes of Craig Gordon, Leigh Griffiths, Patrick Roberts, Marvin Compper, Stuart Armstrong and Jonny Hayes. However, club captain, Scott Brown, is set to return after missing the weekend game due to suspension.
Owing to Gordon’s absence, Rodgers is expected to station Dorus de Vries between the sticks. The 37-year-old has truckloads of experience under his belt and the manner in which he plies his trade against the Russian outfit would definitely have a major say in the outcome of the game.
Zenit are unarguably a very strong side in terms of attacking the opposition and thus, Rodgers’ defensive line needs to stay resilient and sharp throughout the game. We anticipate seeing a three-man defensive wall comprising of Kristoffer Ajer, Jozo Simunovic and Mikael Lustig.
While Lustig will be available for selection, Simunovic was preserved over the weekend and his commanding presence at the back would be desired by the former Liverpool manager. Ajer’s stock is really on the rise because of his composure and calmness at the back and he deserves to start in the upcoming fixture.
James Forrest has been one of the most influential figures for the Bhoys this season and he is likely to start as the right-wingback. As far as the left-wingback slot is concerned, Kieran Tierney should be used therein to showcase his industry and has to strike a fine balance between his offensive and defensive endeavours.
It would make a great deal of sense if the trio of Scott Brown, Olivier Ntcham and Kouassi Eboue are pencilled in the central midfield. These three players are in good form and they need to shield the defensive line of their side, dictate the tempo of the game from the middle and knit the side together.
Moussa Dembele is expected to be picked ahead of Paris Saint-Germain loanee, Odsonne Edouard. The former Fulham striker’s clinical ability is exemplary and it goes without saying that he would want to make his presence felt against the Lions. Callum McGregor is likely to start in the no.10 position.