Celtic v AIK Stockholm
Thursday, 22 August 2019
Europa League Playoff
Celtic go into their seventh match of a gruelling European qualification journey on Thursday night. The disappointment of missing out on Champions League qualification last week will need to be forgotten as Celtic welcome Swedish champions AIK in the first leg of the Europa League playoff.
Neil Lennon has failed to find a settled back four since the start of the season, but the importance of this match in terms of confidence and financial reward can’t be overlooked. With that in mind, fans would expect to see players wedged into their natural positions with an instruction to “do your job”, whatever defensive players are selected will need to remain focused throughout.
With plenty of options from middle to front, Celtic should be able to cause the Swedish champions problems. An in-form Edouard, Christie and Forrest hold the key to obtaining a positive result before the return leg next week.
Celtic to take a slender 2-1 lead to Sweden for the second leg, with Forrest scoring first.
After a tough Scottish League Cup tie against Dunfermline at the weekend, which Celtic managed to negotiate, they will look to get back to European winning ways against AIK Stockholm.
The Swedish champions are already well into their season and will look to take away a positive result from Celtic Park.
It will be crucial for the Celtic supporters to unite behind the team and cheer them on, hopefully to victory.
The team will again no doubt be changed, but what will be crucial is for the Hoops to have a settled back four.
If Celtic are on their game and Odsonne Edouard is in the mood, I would fancy the Scottish champions to get back to winning ways in Europe.
Celtic to win the game 2-0, with Edouard to score anytime.Listen to the award-winning A Celtic State of Mind podcast
The plaster stung when it was put across the open wound on Saturday, as the Bhoys were far from convincing in the extra time victory over Dunfermline
Hopefully a hard weeks’ training will come to fruition on Thursday and we will see a team determined to show what they are capable of.
A solid defensive performance is needed at the back and I would hope that we see the same back four from Saturday, as they need time to build a partnership.
Celtic created plenty of chances on Saturday but they were from long range, and the wide areas will have to be more effective on Thursday.
Odsonne Edouard always seems to up his game when it comes to European nights and I expect Thursday to be the same.
Celtic 3 AIK 0 with Odsonne Edouard to score twice.
We don’t want to be playing on Thursdays. But we are. As it is our level.
That we are is solely down to poor game management and individual errors. These shut the door to the exclusive money vault where mermaids swim in £50 notes and you will eventually only get in by invite. They can keep that.
Europe is full of unremarkable teams from unremarkable leagues doing their best. Celtic should always aim to do the remarkable and tomorrow night is one of those times. We often fail. We often fail to plan to make the remarkable possible. But, we must always believe that the remarkable is possible. If that goes? Well, we may as well give up and go home.
The tension will be at a boiling point because of our failure last week. It won’t simmer as our nerves are shot and only a comfortable victory may see us relax. Our opponents will have something to say about that. They will have watched us concede four goals. They have said the Scottish League isn’t that good. They will fancy it.
Our manager must be bold with his selection. He must be respectful to the players who have done so much over the last three seasons. The crowd need to get behind those players that have given us so many great memories. We need to get behind the new faces. They all deserve another chance to be remarkable. Do that and we hope we will be fine.
I predict we will win by two clear goals with Edouard scoring and being the top man.