We usually like to try to second guess Neil Lennon’s team selection ahead of the game. On Saturday at Easter Road we got 10 from 11 with our only mistake being at right back where we reckoned Elhamed would have started after Bauer picked up an injury against Kilmarnock the previous week.
So what about tonight? The same position might just trip us up but we’ll go for Elhamed to start at right back following the same logic – Bauer got injured again against Hibs, in the challenge that Kevin Clancy missed that should have resulted in Celtic’s second penalty of the afternoon.
In goals it will be Fraser Forster so Cluj will be facing a giant of a keeper rather than the more petite Scott Bain.
Both new signings who were benched the last time the Romanians came calling – Jullien and Bolingoli – will start this evening and so will Kris Ajer, despite being a little accident prone in recent games – that crazy penalty against Rennes, that crazy own goal against Hibs…
So far we’ve got
Forster, Elhamed, Ajer, Jullien, Bolingoli…
Ahead of them will be Callum McGregor – not playing at left back and Scott Brown – not taking a turn in goals.
Let’s jump to the striker. Even when we needed a goal on Saturday, Neil Lennon was still prepared to substitute Odsonne Edouard against Hibs, with this evening in mind.
The three attacking midfielders is where the real uncertainty is. Will Neil Lennon play Forrest on the left, move Christie to the right and have Ntcham in the middle as his number 10?
Or will he play Forrest on the right, Christie as the number 10 and then decide between Scotty Sinclair and Mohamed Elyounoussi on the left?
Well we’ll go for Forrest, Christie and Elyounoussi – who incidentally is featured in an exclusive interview in tonight’s matchday programme – a wee clue perhaps?
So our predicted starting eleven is
Elhamed, Ajer, Jullien, Bolingoli
Forrest, Christie, Elyounoussi
In that interview Elyounoussi talks about his first visit to Celtic Park for a European night to play for Molde. He’d starred in a 3-1 win over the Hoops in the home match then inflicted further damage at Celtic Park in a 2-1 win back in 2015.
“I remember we came to Glasgow after winning in the previous game, so we were confident of taking the game to the opponents. I was playing well during that period and I was excited by the start we had made in the group.
“I knew Celtic had a big stadium and that they had a lot of history, but the atmosphere was something I wasn’t expecting. I didn’t know the song ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ before I walked out of the tunnel that night. The fans were singing it as we walked on to the pitch and it gave me goosebumps. Hearing that as an opposition player is amazing and you realise how big a part the home fans can play.
“It doesn’t feel hostile because it’s such a beautiful song, but you immediately see what a special place Celtic Park is. We had huge respect for Celtic but we started on the front foot and I remember when I scored there was a moment of quiet which I hadn’t heard at any other point in the game.
“The last game I played in the UEFA Europa League was against Sevilla in 2016 and they went on to win the tournament that year.
“That was the same season that we were in the group with Celtic. It’s nice to get the opportunity to play Celtic in European football because they atmosphere in Celtic Park during European games is incredible and I can’t wait to experience that as a Celtic player.”
Check out the full interview with the Norwegian – who hopefully has got his scoring boots on again tonight – in the Celtic v Cluj Matchday programme and as featured on the official Celtic website.
Prediction? Celtic 3 Cluj 0 – COYBIG!
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) October 3, 2019