Celtic host Borussia Monchengladbach in their third Champions League group game on Wednesday night. Here are the talking points ahead of the game.
WHO STARTS IN CENTRAL DEFENCE?
Kolo Toure looks certain to return after being rested for the bulk of Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Motherwell but manager Brendan Rodgers has options for his partner. Erik Sviatchenko is desperate to retain his European role following the 3-3 draw with Manchester City but Jozo Simunovic is pushing for his Champions League debut after making five domestic appearances since recovering from a knee injury.
INJURIES TAKING THEIR TOLL
Both Mikael Lustig and Nir Bitton missed the win over Motherwell with knocks picked up on international duty. Rodgers will hope to have their experience back. Lustig’s likely replacement would be former West Brom right-back Cristian Gamboa, whose first club game for seven months was the 7-0 defeat by Barcelona. He has since managed less than 70 minutes in each of the two league games he has played. Bitton was replaced by Stuart Armstrong against Motherwell, but the former Dundee United player is normally a more attacking midfielder than the Israeli.
Although the relentless action of Manchester City’s visit to Parkhead will long live in the memory, and the great Barcelona are still to make their return to the east end of Glasgow, Celtic’s double header against the Germans will define their European campaign. Neither team have given up hope of qualifying for the last 16 after only two games but the next two matches will decide whether Celtic are still in with a chance, fighting for a Europa League place or staring an early exit in the face. Champions League home wins over the likes of Shakhtar Donetsk, Benfica, Spartak Moscow and Copenhagen have helped Celtic progress beyond Christmas at some level in recent years but a goalless draw at home to Aalborg proved fatal on another occasion.
Celtic have long been known for making whirlwind starts to matches, but it is not that simple in the Champions League. However, their lightning start against City - when Moussa Dembele netted inside three minutes - set the tone for their performance. Another positive opening spell would maintain the acclaimed Parkhead atmosphere and give Celtic further momentum.