GK - Craig Gordon
Chris Sutton criticism aside, there’s no doubt that Gordon remains Celtic’s No.1.
DR - Mikael Lustig; DC - Dedryck Boyata; DC - Nir Bitton; DL - Kieran Tierney
If Celtic weren’t playing next midweek, or even if they were playing a domestic game, Simunovic would likely start. But with a crucial match against Anderlecht coming up, it seems unlikely they’ll risk him. The Croat has a swollen knee and it’s the type of injury which can flare up after 90 minutes. Asking him to play twice in the space of five days might be expecting too much.
The decision then is whether to start Bitton at centre-back or Anthony Ralston at right-back and move Lustig into the centre. The Ralston gamble didn’t work out against PSG, but there’s a massive difference between going head-to-head with Neymar than there is Josh Windass. On the other hand, Bitton played well against Dundee at centre-back, and his ability to play the ball out from the back, with Celtic slated to have a lot of possession, should see him get the nod.
MC - Scott Brown; MC - Stuart Armstrong
It’ll either be Armstrong or Olivier Ntcham alongside the captain. Looking at the last two games, Armstrong seems the stronger choice. He played well against Ross County, helping Celtic to drive through the visitors’ 5-4-1 set-up, while Ntcham had a quiet evening against Dundee at Dens. The fact that Armstrong was rested and Ntcham wasn’t for the Betfred Cup clash also indicates it’ll be the former who’ll get the nod.
MR - James Forrest; AM - Tom Rogic; ML - Scott Sinclair
I’m doubling down on Forrest and Rogic starting in a big game after incorrectly predicting the pair would start against PSG. Celtic missed Forrest’ ability to stretch the opposition and his work on the defensive end in that match, and the fact he’s scored four goals in his last two games should see him get the nod, with Patrick Roberts coming off the bench for the final 20 minutes.
If Ntcham starts then look for Rodgers to leave Rogic on the bench, with either Armstrong or Callum McGregor coming into the No.10 role, as he’ll want a little more energy and dynamism in the centre of the park. That, however, would be paying Rangers a lot of respect, which probably isn’t warranted at this moment in time. Rogic is the biggest midfield goal threat other than Sinclair from midfield, and would represent the better option if Celtic wish to dish out another battering.
FC - Leigh Griffiths
Low on match sharpness, Moussa Dembele is unlikely to be thrown into a game of this importance. Look for him to come off the bench. Odsonne Edouard is another option, but the French loanee seems to have gone cold since his red hot debut against Hamilton.