Celtic play against Rosenborg in the first leg of their Champions League second round qualifier tonight.
And it’s going to be very interesting to see how Brendan Rodgers deals with the absence of several key players for the visit of the Norwegian champions.
There’s no doubting the Hoops are favourites for the tie, advancing to the group stages in the last two seasons and beating Rosenborg in qualifying last term.
But missing Moussa Dembele, Leigh Griffiths, Mikael Lustig, Dedryck Boyata, Jozo Simunovic and Marvin Compper tomorrow should hurt their chances.
So it’s up to Rodgers to figure out the best team to put on the pitch with the players he has at his disposal.
He reportedly said yesterday that he’s going to play a back four in tonight’s game at Celtic Park and, based on that and a few other things, this is the XI we’re predicting to start:
This has been Rodgers’ most popular system at Celtic and he should revert to that tonight after playing a 3-5-2 in recent matches. It seemed Rodgers was keen to get Dembele and Edouard in his starting XI, but with the former missing and no clear striker replacement, it’s likely he’ll revert to a formation his team knows well.
Why Hendry at CB?
Simply put, there’s no one else available. Celtic have three centre back options unavailable so that leaves just Kristoffer Ajer and Jack Hendry who can play there. With the latter, he’s been turning out at right back so far this season and has coped well so Rodgers should trust him in the centre.
Why Ralston at RB?
With Hendry pushing into the centre of defence, that leaves a gap at right back and Ralston is primed to fill it. He played against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last term so Rodgers obviously rates him enough to trust him in big games and this might be an opportunity to introduce him back into the fold after spending the last few months of last season on loan.
Scott Sinclair has been reduced to an impact sub of late under Rodgers, struggling to impress in the last few months of the last campaign and in the first few games of this season. With Dembele out, there’s an attacking space open and Sinclair should be trusted to fill it. He’s still a quality player and has been a difference-maker in European qualifiers in the past so expect him to regain his spot on the left tonight.
Celtic fans – would you be happy with that XI?