THURSDAY 15th FEBRUARY: EUROPA LEAGUE LAST 32 FIRST LEG; CELTIC V ZENIT 8:05PM
After two long months the Bhoys are back in Europe, as we get ready to take on Russian CRACKS Zenit in the last 32 of the Europa League.
Team Line-Up: With Chris Davies confirming yesterday that Rogic, Griffiths, Armstrong and Roberts are all out, it’ll be up to the players who struggled to overcome Partick Thistle to give Zenit a game.
So that means Dorus ‘chocolate wrists’ de Vries in goals, with Lustig and Tierney as the full-backs. Kristoffer Ajer seems certain to start in defence, and I would play Jack Hendry alongside him. I know it’ll be only his second game for the Bhoys but Jozo was so utterly crap against Thistle he just can’t be trusted.
In midfield it’ll presumably be Brown and Ntcham, and probably Callum McGregor in for Charly Musonda, who lacks the big game experience that McGregor has.
Up-front, Scotland’s player of the year elect (and next James Bond) James Forrest will be on one wing, with the flattering to deceive Scott Sinclair on the other. It’s a big night for Moussa Dembele who will be in the lone striker role, he has a chance to prove his doubters wrong after some recent average performances.
Previous Meetings: We’ve never played Zenit before, but we have had some skirmishes with Russian sides in the past, and our record against them is generally quite good, look at the 2-1 Champions League win over Spartak in 2012 for example, which was our last match against Russian opponents.
Prediction: If we didn’t have so many injuries in key areas of the pitch, we would be more than a match for a team which haven’t played a competitive match since December. However, the injuries, combined with the loss of form from key players and our poor home record in Europe have supporters fearing that we might get ‘gubbed’ by Roberto Mancini’s side.
If we can get a score draw or narrow win to take over to Russia it’ll be a good result, and hopefully by next week some of the injured players might have returned. So my prediction is...a narrow Celtic win.
Celtic 2 Zenit 1