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The Real Thing: An Anderlecht-Celtic Preview

Celtic FC v Manchester City FC - UEFA Champions League
A huge night for Brendan Rodgers tomorrow in Belgium
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images


Celtic aim to get our Champions League campaign back on track with a trip to Belgium to face Anderlecht.

Team Selection: Brendan Rodgers has some big decisions to make for this game. It seems likely that he will make changes from the team that defeated Rangers at the weekend, but perhaps not at the back, where the back four of Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic and Tierney seems to be the preferred options.

Dundee v Celtic - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership
Boyata and Simunovic - the preferred centre-back partnership
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

In midfield and up-front it will be different though. Olivier Ntcham, who was on the bench for Saturday would seem to be a definite starter, as would Callum McGregor, perhaps in for Stuart Armstrong and Tom Rogic respectively. The midfield will have to be more pragmatic than it was at the weekend.

Rangers v Celtic - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership
Callum McGregor - a good bet to start tomorrow night?
Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

James Forrest may well come in for Patrick Roberts, as Forrest is able to offer more in a defensive scenario than Roberts. Whilst up-front despite the good form of Griffiths this game seems to be made for Moussa Dembele to be the main striker, as he aims to continue his good Champions League performances of last season.

Celtic FC v Manchester City FC - UEFA Champions League
Moussa Dembele celebrates his second goal against Manchester City last season
Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

So the team I would pick is: Gordon, Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham, McGregor; Forrest, Sinclair, Dembele.

The likes of Roberts, Rogic and Griffiths are more than capable of causing Anderlecht problems in substitute appearances.

Previous Meetings: Celtic last faced Anderlect in two memorable encounters in the Champions League in 2003, we wrote about those games in detail here.

Prediction: On paper this looks like an eminently winnable game for Celtic. Anderlecht seem in turmoil, and Belgian football expert John Chapman - who we spoke to here - has tipped a Celtic victory. However this has been the sort of game that Celtic have tripped up in - especially in Europe - in the past. Just look at the recent game away to Astana, which we conspired to lose even though we won 8-4 on aggregate. For those reasons, a draw would be a decent result for me and it would give us the edge in the race for European football after Christmas.

Anderlecht 1 Celtic 1