Celtic get their Champions League campaign underway tonight when they travel to Rotterdam to take on Eredivisie champions Feyenoord.
Brendan Rodgers will have plenty to think about with regards to team selection, with injuries and form all playing on his mind heading into this fixture, but the squad will be high on confidence after a comfortable win against Dundee at Celtic Park on Saturday.
Here are A Celtic State of Mind’s team predictions for tonight’s Champions League curtain-raiser.
GK – Joe Hart
The English stopper has had a solid start to the season so far, but fans will be eager to see improvements from Hart in Europe this season. He made some costly errors last season, but with Rodgers putting less emphasis on him playing out from the back, we may see Hart at his best tonight.
RB – Alistair Johnston
The Canadian right-back has slotted seamlessly back into the fold after missing the start of Celtic’s season with an injury. He has shown so far at the club that he has a knack for rising to the occasion and raising his game for the big matches and he will be eager to impress in his first ever Champions League campaign.
CB – Liam Scales
The Irishman has been the surprise package for Celtic so far this season as he was handed a lifeline at the club due to the depleted situation at centre-back. He has grabbed every opportunity he has had so far by the scruff of the neck, keeping clean sheets in each of his appearances so far this season, but Tuesday’s game will be the biggest test of his Celtic career and a good performance could further secure his place as a Celtic player.
CB – Nat Phillips
The Liverpool loanee was brought in for games like this, with his Champions League experience no doubt playing a factor in Celtic choosing him as the emergency centre-back signing. With 45 minutes under his belt at the weekend, he will be ready to go from the offing and he can’t allow a lack of match sharpness to let mistakes creep into his game as they won’t go unpunished at this level.
LB – Greg Taylor
Taylor looked closer to his best at the weekend with one of his best performances so far this season. He will have to continue upping his game to prepare for the challenge of Feyenoord, however, as much like last season’s group stage campaign, Taylor will be targeted by opposition attackers.
CM – Callum McGregor
The Captain has been hitting form at exactly the right time after overcoming a shaky start to the season. McGregor missed a large portion of last season’s group stage through injury but he has shown time and time again that he steps up for games like this. In a game where Celtic’s backs are likely to be against the wall, having the Captain instilling confidence in the team as well as patrolling the midfield will be vital for success.
CM – Matt O’Riley
The Dane was one of the standout performers in last season’s UCL campaign, deputising in different roles and not letting his levels drop at all. He has been one of the most consistent players so far this season and will be eager to impress at this stage with a potential call-up to the Danish national team on the horizon.
CM – Reo Hatate
Hatate has had an injury-plagued start to the campaign but in his brief cameos he has made he has had a noticeable positive impact on the team. He brings the creativity and risk-taking passes that Celtic will need to see plenty of to help unlock Europe’s toughest defences and he definitely should start tonight.
RW – Yang Hyun-jun
The South Korean was the man Rodgers called upon at the weekend to fill in for the injured Liel Abada and he impressed, proving that he isn’t just an impact player from the bench. He would have signed for Celtic to play in games just like this and the circumstances have lined up perfectly for a start tomorrow night, he just has to grab the opportunity and run with it.
ST – Kyogo Furuhashi
Kyogo was his brilliant best at the weekend, grabbing a goal and an assist. He didn’t have the UCL campaign he would have hoped for last season and will be desperate to right the wrongs from last year. He just needs to get that first goal under his belt and the floodgates will open from there.
LW – Daizen Maeda
Much like the aforementioned Kyogo, Maeda will be looking to right the wrongs from last season’s campaign as he saw countless goal-scoring opportunities pass him by.
JAMES MCKENZIE // Follow James HERE