Andrew Rafferty with A Celtic State of Mind – Europa League Preview

Following the rollercoaster of emotions that was the Scottish League Cup final, Celtic travel to Cluj for the second time this season to play the final match in our 2019/20 European winter campaign.

A draw or win will leave us undefeated and top of the group, a position few of us anticipated following the 4-3 home defeat to Cluj in the Champions League qualifiers, way back in August.

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Our opponents need to avoid defeat in this match to join us in the knockout phase of the competition. The other match in the group sees Rennes host Lazio. The Italians must win and hope for us to beat Cluj to progress, while Rennes can only hope to salvage some pride. Both teams have shown some recent good form in the league, with Lazio in particular impressing in their defeat of Juventus at the weekend.

Having already placed for the next phase of the competition, Lennon will be thankful for the opportunity to rotate his bruised, battered and depleted squad. The likes of Johnston, Morgan and Ntcham will all start. French Eddy hasn’t made it and Bitton has been brought into the centre of defence. There is also a welcome return to the starting XI for Griffiths and Sinclair, who will both benefit hugely from rare starts.

Can we expect a low-key, low-impact game? A Europa League ‘non-agression pact’ which allows Cluj through and knocks Lazio out, with minimal wear and tear for Celtic? That would suit me.

1-1 with zero injury scares please.

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