Brendan Rodgers will be looking to improve on the previous match between the sides, when they were beaten 5-0 at Parkhead in the opening match of the Champions League. Craig Fowler predicts which team the Celtic boss will go with.
Usually in these articles we break it down by area of the field (defence, midfield etc) but in this instance we’ll just give you our expected team in full...
GK - Craig Gordon
RB - Mikael Lustig
CB - Nir Bitton
CB - Dedryck Boyata
LB - Kieran Tierney
DM - Scott Brown
MR - James Forrest
MC - Callum McGregor
MC - Stuart Armstrong
ML - Scott Sinclair
FC - Moussa Dembele
That’s right, it’s the exact same team as the 1-0 win over Ross County.
Brendan Rodgers typically prefers to change his team from one game to the next, especially when that includes a domestic match followed by a European one. And with the Betfred Cup final this coming Sunday against Motherwell, he may have been tempted to throw in a couple of squad rotation players for the trip to Dingwall before reverting to a stronger XI against PSG. But he didn’t do that.
With the exception of Jozo Simunovic, who was an unused sub on Saturday and isn’t yet sharp enough to be thrown in against the might of the French side, that’s the strongest team available to Rodgers at the moment. There are debates to be had over Leigh Griffiths and Dembele, and Olivier Ntcham or Tom Rogic against McGregor or Armstrong, but over the past month or so that’s the in-form XI.
The reason Rodgers probably went with such a strong team against County, when usually he would have thrown in the likes of Jonny Hayes or Eboue Koussai to rest some legs, is that Celtic were coming off an international week. The team hadn’t played together in a fortnight. Waiting another four days may have negatively affected his side’s rhythm, and against PSG they’ll need any advantage they can get.
If he’s tempted to change, Rodgers’ biggest decisions will come up front and in the centre of the park, but the quality of opponent would probably dissuade him from doing so. McGregor may not have the poise of Ntcham or match up to Rogic as an attacking force, but he’s a tactically disciplined worker who’ll run himself into the ground.
In attack, Griffiths may feel he’s played himself into contention with the winner against County, but Celtic won’t see much of the ball in Paris. Defending for long stretches, they’ll need the player most capable of holding up play, and that’s Dembele.