Lenny’s Gloves Call, Predicted Line-up and that Champions League Gravitas

TONIGHT’s game as a big match feel about it. It’s crucial that Celtic get past Cluj who are a dangerous side but one without the quality that we have in our squad. If Cluj were in the Scottish Premiership they’d be top six certainly and could probably be as dangerous an opponent as maybe Aberdeen visiting Celtic Park.

The money at stake tonight is huge and both manager’s are aware of the importance of getting the correct result. Neil Lennon has had some memorable nights in the Champions League qualifiers himself and Dan Petrescu knows what it is like to win comprehensively in Glasgow, although hilariously enough it was the old Rangers who were his victims. It will be no laughing matter if he can repeat the trick tonight.

The 2-2 draw his side achieved in Tel Aviv in the last round is warning enough for Neil Lennon. That result would see Celtic drop into the Europa League play-offs, a prospect so unappetising that we’ve never even mentioned it on The Celtic Star.

The first name we will see on The Celtic team-sheet is the goalkeeper and it will be interesting to see if Scott Bain keeps his place after being culpable at the opening goal at Fir Park at the weekend and perhaps also partly to blame for Cluj’s opener last Wednesday when he was slow to come off his line. Craig Gordon is clearly getting closer to a return and it could happen as quickly as this evening. If Bain does play, he really needs to put on a performance that will please his manager who wants the best keeper at keeping the ball out of the net.

Real retro stuff from Lenny on this one.

The back four isn’t settled ether Elhamed and Bolingoli should be the two full backs, Kris Ajer will play, probably alongside Jozo Simonuvic with both Nir Bitton and Christopher Jullien dropping the bench. The Frenchman did not look up to speed at Fir Park and that performance will certainly have a bearing on the team tonight.

In Midfield Scott Brown, Ryan Christie and Callum McGregor will play. James Forrest will be wide on the right and Odsonne Edouard will lead the line. The big decision that Lenny has to make is whether to play fit again Mikey Johnston on the left or move Ryan Christie out there to allow Olivier Ntcham, who was excellent at Fir Park, to play the number 10 role.

Neil Lennon will let us know how he sees things when he reveals his team selection shortly. He’s been talking about the European campaign so far and specifically about the challenge that Cluj will provide this evening to the official Celtic website.

“We’ve been very productive in Europe so far. We’ve had two wins against two good sides, we got a good away result last week and we’re hoping that we can progress this evening at home,” Lenny said.

“We’ve been pretty strong at home so far, but Cluj are an experienced team. They won’t give it up lightly, but neither will we.

“There’s a hunger there with us just now and we all know how important getting into the Champions League is. To have that gravitas associated with the club again would be fantastic, but we know how difficult it can be getting there.

“European football is still very competitive, but it’s also tougher because we, of course, have an extra round to play.

“The quality of teams, even in the qualifying rounds, are very high. If we get through tonight’s game, we face another top-class outfit in Slavia Prague.

“While we want to get there, we know we need to do the hard yards and we know how important these games are so early in the season.”

The Celtic support will be out in force this evening and as usual will get 100% behind the team and hopefully can spook the Romanian Champions. It’s going to be quite an evening! Enjoy the match whether you are there or watching on Celtic TV and COYBIG!

Also on The Celtic Star…

Window Shopping – Taylor, Meling, Gumny and the London Stock Exchange…see HERE.

Celtic v CRF Cluj – ‘Desperate’ Dan’s Delightful Dig at Old Rangers…see HERE.

‘That left foot is a wand,’ Broony hails Super Leigh and KT’s ‘ fairy-tale story’…see HERE.

Forrest to Zenit? ‘No Confirmation’, not happening as ‘Maverick’ Ntcham praised by boss…see HERE.

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder by and is editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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