Have a match for TFK on Thursday evening so will have to record this match and impose a media blackout to prevent me from finding out the score until I get home.
Good news for Celtic is that Di Natale is out for Udinese - didn’t travel with the squad to save him from burnout.
Will be interesting to see how they line-up. They generally play 3 at the back but they don’t have many striking options beyond Di Natale. Fabbrini will probably start.
Celtic won’t have El Kaddouri of course so that means Mulgrew’s return to the side is likely to take place at left back and we’ll have to suffer through Majstorovic and Loovens again. I don’t like playing Wilson at left back but I’d move heaven and earth to play Mulgrew at centre back (he has the best track record, he needs the experience, the other two are incapable and aren’t going to learn now). Could also go for Ledley at left back but I wouldn’t be breaking up that midfield from Saturday. Or the strikeforce.
Okay. That simplifies the team selection in my mind. You could have argued a case for Ledley slotting back to left back and a midfield four of Brown, Ki, Kayal and Forrest or something.
But now I think we need to place Mark Wilson at left back because Mulgrew simply must be in the centre, as far as I’m concerned. I would be really frustrated if he went with Loovens and Majstorovic after the weekend’s horror show. That would leave a midfield of Forrest, Ki, Kayal and Ledley.
I’d like him to play Stokes and Hooper upfront together - not one upfront and Stokes or Samaras hanging out wide left. Stokes and Hooper can take turns dropping deeper to make it a 4-4-1-1 and to help the midfield when needs be.
I’d go with:
Matthews, Loovens, Mulgrew, M Wilson,
Forrest, Kayal, Ki, Ledley,
Even typing out that keeper and back four and reading it on the screen in front of me frightens me a bit.
At least there was an acknowledgement from the management that the centre backs were shite at the weekend (the criticism was mild enough but it’s still rare to hear them singled out) so you’d hope there’d be enough reason to justify recalling Charles to the centre of the back four. I also think it’s not viable to switch him between the left back and centre back roles when El Kaddouri is cup-tied and not. Centre back is a big problem. Sort that first and we can cope with left back. Even if it means picking Mark Wilson or even Toshney or someone out there.
This is a Celtic forum and we’re kicking off in just over 2 hours in a critical European tie at Celtic Park and there hasn’t been a mention of the game on here all day.
There is NOT a buzz about Celtic at the moment. I think the support are quite demoralised in truth. We plead and whined and ached for defensive reinforcements all summer and the club didn’t act despite it being blindingly obvious that we needed to strengthen.
Then we had the horrible ‘exit’ in Sion followed by the subsequent reprieve. That showcased that we just didn’t have enough quality in the squad and that point was hammered home by losing 4 goals at Ibrox.
Like I said yesterday, the squad listing and the defence in particular is pretty grim reading. It’s not too long ago that we were turning over Europe’s elite at Celtic Park; now the likes of Sion can get results here and Udinese are planning to rest some of their main players ahead of their weekend Serie A fixture.
The 6pm kick-off will do nothing for the attendance or atmosphere either. So it’s going to have to be the team giving the support something to get behind this evening, I reckon. Need a good start at a fast tempo and take it from there. 4-4-2 with Stokes and Hooper please, Neil.
Any other team news for Udinese? With Di Natale out they lose a real focal point up front, Barreto and Floro Flores are the only other two genuine central attackers in their side and both have barely featured this season, can’t recall Floro Flores even being on the bench, maybe he’s injured but he had a very impressive loan spell with Genoa last season. Fabbrini is more of an attacking midfilder and a forward. Armero and Isla will represent the big danger toward us on the flanks and their defence is really athletic so I think it will benefit us if we play Stokes and Hooper whose movement and link-up play will unsettle them.
One of the main reasons why there is no buzz around this game is that we are quiet well aware of our limiations - in defence - and that Lennon likes to repeat the same mistakes over and over again (Samaras ahead of Stokes).
I’m going for a low scoring draw tonight if Floro Flores and Barreto are not included. If they are I think Udinese will take this one without breaking sweat.
I actually wouldn’t mind if Bangura got a start. He’s had a few substitute appearances but would like to see what he can offer from the start. In fairness, we’re not going to win this competition so it might be no harm to give him a shot. A goal would set him up nicely for upcoming league games. But I don’t want to see Samaras in the starting lineup or Stokes shunted out wide.