How many of Celtic’s 8 Champions League debutants will feature against Lazio?

One of the main criticisms from Celtic’s defeat in Rotterdam against Feyenoord in the Champions League opening game was the inexperience of some of our squad at that level.

Gustaf Lagerbielke and Odin Holm were making their Champions League debuts and the Scandinavian pair were both on the receiving end of red cards, which ultimately destroyed Celtic’s chances of taking anything from the game.

They weren’t the only two making their maiden Champions League appearances, with Celtic’s debutants enjoying mixed fortunes on the night. The game in the Netherlands will act as a learning curve for them all, and should benefit those available for selection tomorrow night.

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Here we take a look at how Celtic’s debutants fared in their first Champions League appearance:

Alistair Johnston

Alistair Johnston was one of the standout performers against Feyenoord as he fought valiantly and showed a lot of the qualities that have made him a success story domestically. We saw the crunching tackles flying in early on, as he led the game for ground duels and tackles completed.

A Celtic State of Mind had previously highlighted the Canadian as a key player for the Champions League campaign and Johnston showed in Rotterdam that he was more than up to the task of European football.

Chances of starting against Lazio: 100%

Gustaf Lagerbielke

The young Swede actually had a decent first-half, making up part of what was a very organised Celtic defence that reduced the Dutch champions to having pot-shots from long-range.

His lack of experience, especially at the highest level, was abundantly clear in the second-half when he should have shepherded the ball back to the onrushing Joe Hart instead of challenging the attacker. This error resulted in his second yellow card as well as a penalty for the home side.

His performance was solid up until then, but a lapse in concentration let him down, resulting in his suspension for the visit of Lazio.

Chances of starting against Lazio: 0%


Liam Scales

Scales, much like his central defensive partner, had a solid first-half and he continued that it in the second period as he dominated in the air and put in a gutsy display as a part of a nine-man Celtic team who had their backs against the wall.

He has steadily been improving since being parachuted into the centre of Celtic’s defence amidst an unprecedented injury crisis. Many wanted to see how he would cope when stepping up a level from domestic football, and the Irishman passed his first test in Rotterdam.

Chances of starting against Lazio: 100%

Luis Palma

The Honduran received some criticism for his display against Feyenoord, but there were definitely some encouraging signs in the 23-year-old’s game as he showed a willingness to take on his man and threatened on a few occasions when cutting in on his right foot.

The criticism seemed harsh, given it was only his second appearance for the club, and the impact he made against Motherwell at the weekend will go a long way to pushing him into the forefront of Brendan Rodgers’ mind when the starting XI is named for the visit of Lazio.

Chances of starting against Lazio: 75%

Odin Holm

Holm was only on the field for a matter of moments before, much like the aforementioned Lagerbielke, his inexperience let him down as he made a rash and dangerous challenge which resulted in a deserved sending-off.

Again, he will need to use this as a learning curve, and Rodgers reaffirmed his trust in the talents of the young Norwegian in his post-match interview.

Chances of starting against Lazio: 0%


Yang Hyun-jun

Yang was extremely unlucky in his first Champions League outing, after his side were reduced to nine men just a few moments after he made his way onto the field. The 21-year-old stuck to his task, despite it being difficult for him to impose his influence on the game under the circumstances.

After the perfromances of Yang, Forrest and Palma against Motherwell, it looks like Palma has leapfrogged the South Korean for a starting slot.

Chances of starting against Lazio: 50%

Tomoki Iwata

Iwata showed some good fight as he came on against Feyenoord to make his Champions League debut at centre-back, replacing Kyogo Furuhashi. Iwata’s introduction was a substitution simply to shore up the backline and avoid a hammering, with the pressure on in the latter stages of the game.

Chances of starting against Lazio: 25%

Oh Hyeon-gyu

Oh had very little time on the field to make any real impact in his first European game, getting just 8 minutes on the park.

Unless Rodgers decides to change shape, with two upfront and Kyogo using his engine to play a high line from a #10 position, Oh will start the game on the bench.

Chances of starting against Lazio: 25%


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