Predicted Celtic team to play Rangers as Brendan Rodgers faces one major call

The Celtic starting XI largely picks itself for the final match of the season

While Rangers manager Philippe Clement has something of a major headache when it comes to picking his team for Saturday’s Scottish Cup final, his Celtic counterpart Brendan Rodgers is in a completely different position.

Celtic’s best XI is largely settled due to the team’s good form and also the return to fitness of several key players. Rodgers has been without Cameron Carter-Vickers, Reo Hatate and Callum McGregor for prolonged spells during the campaign but all three are now fully fit and will form the spine of the Celtic team that will take to the pitch at Hampden.

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Joe Hart will play the last match of his career at Hampden and will hope to sign off with a winners’ medal. The 37-year-old goalkeeper will want to add yet another medal to a decorated playing stint – and has already stated that he will take a penalty kick in a shoot-out should it go that far, despite missing against Aberdeen in the semis.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers may turn to James Forrest once more on the wing.Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers may turn to James Forrest once more on the wing.
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers may turn to James Forrest once more on the wing.

Celtic’s back-four is settled too. Alistair Johnston is set to get the nod over Anthony Ralston at right-back and Greg Taylor has the left-back slot all to himself. Carter-Vickers will be partnered by Liam Scales, who has gone from an Aberdeen loanee to a one of Rodgers’ most dependable players.

Midfield picks itself as well. McGregor will wear the captain’s armband and will likely dictate play from his playmaker role. The impressive Matt O’Riley, who is in good goalscoring from, will sit alongside Hatate and one of Rangers’ biggest tasks is stop that trio dictating play.

Ahead of them is the only area of debate. While Adam Idah has performed well on loan from Norwich City, Kyogo Furuhashi is expected to be preferred as the central striker. Fellow Japanese Daizen Maeda has caused Rangers right-back James Tavernier issues in the past and is set to start wide left, and on the other flank James Forrest should retain his place. The 32-year-old is experiencing something of a renaissance at Celtic and while Luis Palma is pushing for a start, Rodgers is likely to go with the Scot.

Probable Celtic team to face Rangers: Hart; Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Scales, Taylor; McGregor, Hatate, O’Riley; Forrest, Furuhashi, Maeda.



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