3 Celtic curveballs Brendan Rodgers could throw at Lazio

Celtic face a monumental task to secure European football after Christmas. To secure Europa League football, Celtic would have to win the remaining two Champions League group fixtures. When you consider the fact that Celtic haven’t won a Champions League group stage fixture since 2017, it just makes the task at hand look even more difficult.

Brendan Rodgers will have plenty on his mind regarding the selection of his starting XI to face Lazio tonight, as a lacklustre display at the weekend may force the gaffer to change things up against the Italians.

Luis Palma’s suspension, as well as injuries to Liel Abada and Daizen Maeda, also leaves Celtic’s options looking threadbare on the wings.

With Celtic not only needing a reaction, but also a victory to keep their post-Christmas European hopes alive, here are a few curveballs that Rodgers could throw in for the trip to Rome.

Mikey Johnston

The Irish international hasn’t started a single game for Celtic this season, but the depleted nature of Celtic’s wings means that Johnston could be in line for not only his first start of the season but also his first ever Champions League group stage appearance.

Johnston looked sharp in his appearance from the bench against Motherwell, winning a penalty for Celtic which was converted by David Turnbull, and could be provided a massive opportunity to stake his claim in the Celtic team tonight.

He has been out of favour at Celtic for over a year now but he would have to raise his game to levels we have never seen from him before if he is to contribute towards a winning effort against Lazio.




David Turnbull

Turnbull has had a great start to the domestic season, as he is currently tied for the top scorer in the Scottish Premiership. The former Motherwell man hasn’t started a Champions League game for Celtic but he should be in line for his first start in the competition tonight.

His close control in tight spaces will be key to unlocking the Lazio defence and his shooting ability, especially from long-range, could prove to be the difference-maker in a game where chances will prove to be at a premium for Celtic.



Change of shape

Rodgers could opt to revert away from his preferred 4-3-3 formation for this game given the lack of options available in the wide areas.

Following Atlético Madrid’s second equaliser of the night at Celtic Park, Brendan Rodgers brought on Nat Phillips for Luis Palma and switched to a 3-5-2 formation to help close out the game, a tactical switch-up that worked out on the night as Celtic ground out a hard fought point.

Bringing Phillips back into the fold in a back three alongside Liam Scales and Cameron Carter-Vickers with Greg Taylor and Alistair Johnston being deployed a bit further forward in a wing-back role could provide Celtic the solid defence needed to keep Lazio at bay.

This would also lead to a front two of Kyogo Furuhashi and Oh Hyeon-gyu, which would see the South Korean earn his first ever Champions League start.

It would be a massive risk to take in a must-win Champions League fixture, but it is certainly worth trying to get the best out of the options currently available at the manager’s disposal.


Leave a Reply