On Thursday night Celtic take on Udinese and this game will be a strong indication of Celtic’s chances in the group. Whilst you would assume Celtic are the underdogs in this game, Udinese manager Francesco Guidolin has put pressure on the Glasgow side by describing Celtic Park as ‘one of the great temples of European football’ and Celtic as ‘one of the great European names’.
This is a reminder that the current Celtic side need to put their disappointing start to the European campaign aside and become worthy inheritors of a club whose history includes the Lisbon Lions and more recently the 2003 Seville side that included names such as Henrik Larsson.
In terms of strikers, Lennon has the opportunity to start Mohammed Bangura and this would be a good test of the new striker’s ability, whilst Anthony Stokes has been playing well recently so he would be another choice, possibly the obvious choice to line up alongside Gary Hooper if he is fit.
The midfield was the area where most success was achieved on Saturday, and as such Lennon has an easy choice to make with certain players, such as goal scorers Joe Ledley and James Forrest. These are strong players who are likely to assist the strikers in providing an attacking threat. Beram Kayal has proved a strong captain whilst Scott Brown has been out injured and because of this he is a certain starter for Lennon, alongside Ki.
Defence remains one of the toughest areas to sort out and solve. The Celtic defence have to prove themselves capable of defending well in big games such as European games and games against Rangers, and at this moment in time they are failing.
This game would be a good chance to see who will step up to the mark and prove themselves, and as such whoever Lennon chooses in defence, they must prove that they are capable of defending against some of the best that European football has to throw at them. Rogne was a good player last season; statistically Celtic’s best and as such may be a good choice in this role, however he has only returned from injury and in all likelihood we could see a Majstorovic and Mulgrew partnership, with Wilson at left back and Matthews at right. However Loovens could be selected alongside Majstorovic in a defensive partnership that was woeful against Rangers and were shaky against Inverness.
Forster remains Celtic’s first choice goalkeeper and Saturday’s game against Inverness proved he is just that, as he made some great saves and kept another a clean sheet. Like the defenders he needs to prove that he is capable of playing at this level.
Whilst Celtic appear to be the underdogs of the group, it is possible that this game will give the side a morale boost if the result goes their way and shift the view of them as underdogs to a side that the other teams need to worry about when at Celtic Park.