Europa League Pre-match with A Celtic State of Mind


Having already qualified for the next stage of the competition, it could be easy to go through the motions tomorrow night against a Rennes side that are bottom of the group and can’t progress to the next stage.

But there is an opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done before… A win tomorrow night and, if Lazio take something from Cluj, we can finish as group winners in a European competition for the first time.

I’d expect there to be no let up on Thursday night and another strong team selection. With Frimpong not included in the squad for this part of the tournament, and Elhamed still out injured, Bauer may come in at right-back. Greg Taylor is likely to continue at left-back in place of the injured Jonny Hayes, with the rest of the team lining-up as it has been in recent weeks.

The controversial banning of the Green Brigade may bring the atmosphere down a little, but I expect a comfortable win against a team with nothing to play for.

My prediction is a 2-0 win with Forrest and Edouard scoring.

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The coaching team has a welcome problem this week and one that they probably haven’t planned for. When they were preparing at the start of this season, their focus would have been on, hopefully, a must-win game in European competition.

That they have already qualified from the group may lessen the pressure, but it won’t lessen the focus. It just points it in a different direction as they sit and study data and discuss things that 90% who watch the game don’t understand.

Winning the group has benefits and that will inform their decision on team selection. Our busy schedule may be a considered factor but it won’t be one that sees us make wholesale changes. It’s something that we haven’t done this season and Celtic Park underneath the lights seems the most unlikely place to start now.

Momentum and form can be as valuable as energy and legs. Celtic Park will probably host the largest attendance in this round of Europa League games and we will want to show Europe that we should be involved.

For me, the only decision lies with Rogic or Ntcham. I go with the latter and predict he will score in a 2-0 victory.

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