CELTIC V FC ASTANA (CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PLAY-OFF FIRST LEG: WEDNESDAY 16TH AUGUST; 7:45PM)
A place in the Champions League is on the line as for the second season running Celtic take on Kazakhstani champions FC Astana.
Team Selection: With Leigh Griffiths earlier today declaring himself fully fit for the game, one of the selection issues is resolved, but the issue of who will partner Jozo Simunovic at centre-half is still to be sorted.
Nir Bitton, who has recently stood-in at centre-half, had an indifferent game at best against Partick Thistle, and I would replace him with either Kristoffer Ajer, or play Mikael Lustig at centre-half with Anthony Ralston at right back. However, I feel that Brendan Rodgers will stick with Bitton, even though playing him out of position could backfire.
In midfield, I would find a way to get Tom Rogic into the team, but I imagine that Rodgers will stick with the midfield three who started against Partick, with a big night ahead of Olivier Ntcham, who was very good against Thistle.
The usual suspects of Gordon, Tierney, Brown, Forrest and Sinclair have all played in these games before so they will know what kind of games to expect.
Previous Meetings: The teams met last season in the third round of Champions League qualifiers, with the first leg in Kazakhstan ending 1-1, Celtic’s vital away goal coming from Leigh Griffiths, after great play by...Patrick Roberts.
Celtic won 2-1 at Celtic Park in the second leg to go through 3-2 on aggregate, the winning goal an injury time penalty scored by...Moussa Dembele.
Prediction: As we see above, the games between the sides last season were very tight, and I don’t things being any different this season, especially with Celtic’s injury problems. A win with no goals conceded would be ideal, and I think that’s what will happen.
Celtic 1 FC Astana 0