Barcelona v Celtic: The likely Celtic starting XI

The Celtic players train ahead of tonight's clash in the Champions League. Picture: Getty
The Celtic players train ahead of tonight's clash in the Champions League. Picture: Getty
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We give our take on how Brendan Rodgers will set up his Celtic side in the Camp Nou.

Celtic could scarcely have been handed a tougher assignment in their first game back in the Champions League group stages.

Our prediction for the Celtic starting XI.

Our prediction for the Celtic starting XI.

Rodgers insists his side will believe they can get something out of the game, and these are the players we believe he'll put his trust in.

GK – Dorus de Vries

He's the No.1 now. He was a under-the-radar winner from the Old Firm game. Sure, he didn't have anything of note to do, but that's exactly why. There were so many other talking points that his inclusion over Craig Gordon wasn't even a story by the end of the day. It sped up the process by which De Vries as Celtic's first choice goalkeeper felt ingrained. And that will continue until he throws a couple of clangers.

DR – Mikael Lustig; DC – Kolo Toure; DC – Erik Sviatchenko; DL – Kieran Tierney

The only question here is whether these four play together as a four, or as 4/5ths of a back five. Should Rodgers should go to a trio of centre backs, it's unlikely he'll call on any of his reserves ahead of Lustig, who's another player leftover from the previous regime(s) coming into a rich vein of form. In such a scenario the Swedish international would slide in beside Toure and Sviatchenko, with new signing Cristian Gamboa taking up residence on the right. If Rodgers wants his full-backs to attack, this is where he'll go, but more than likely he'll be looking for them to stay at home as they fight off Barcelona's constant pressure.

DM – Scott Brown; DM – Nir Bitton

A week after we wrote off the partnership as something that couldn't function any more, the Bitton-Brown duo has new life after Saturday's Old Firm win. There's still work to be done. Brown didn't have the best of games on Saturday's and it does seem he's at his most influential when Callum McGregor is beside him, sharing the dirty work, but Bitton showed the kind of urgency that's been lacking from his game for such a long time and Celtic were able to dominate Rangers in the centre of the park. If he can keep it up then the duo should be able to return to the form they showed when they were first paired together.

Bitton will likely get the nod against Barcelona over McGregor due to his composure on the football. Celtic won't get to see much of it, and they'll need to be accurate when they do. McGregor can bring energy off the bench if required.

AMR – Patrick Roberts; AMC – Stuart Armstrong; AML – Scott Sinclair

It would be difficult to leave out Tom Rogic. He's been excellent so far this season and produced another terrific performance in the 50-odd minutes he was on the park against Rangers. The reason we believe he'll sit on the bench is because, without the ball, he's not going to be as effective as Stuart Armstrong could be. The Scottish midfielder has better athleticism and pace, thereby making him an more effective defender against Barca's possession-based game and someone capable of stretching the hosts on the counter attack.

We also reckon Roberts should start ahead of James Forrest on the right. It may seem a bit of a contradiction, based on the Rogic-Armstrong logic regarding pace, as Forrest is the faster player. While that may be the case, there isn't the same disparity between these two, with Roberts also capable of leaving defenders in his wake. And when comparing them, there's little doubt Roberts possesses a more potent final ball. Celtic will have limited opportunities to attack the Barcelona penalty area. They need to make them count.

FC – Moussa Dembele

The only other conceivable option is to play Sinclair through the centre and go for a counter-attacking side built solely around pace. Dembele is no slouch himself, and his ability to hold up the ball, not to mention his sky high confidence after Saturday, should guarantee his selection.