3-5-1-1: Scott Brown starts in strongest probable Celtic line-up against Zenit

Ahead of Celtic’s Europa League last 32 second-leg tie against Zenit this Thursday, we at Read Celtic will role-play and predict the starting XI.

We will be playing the role of Brendan Rodgers and will be choosing the starting XI, as well as predicting how the team will line-up on the pitch.

It also includes a bit of insight into what we expect from each player, and what they can do to make the difference.

The Hoops take a one-goal advantage to Russia with them thanks to midfielder Callum McGregor’s superb strike with twelve minutes remaining in last week’s first-leg.

Rodgers’ side had to settle for a goalless draw in their most recent game at home to St. Johnstone in the league.

Unlike Celtic, Roberto Mancini’s Zenit didn’t have another fixture to play in-between their Europa League matches.

To understand our prediction, you also need to see the latest team news ahead of the game, here is our predicted eleven in a 4-2-3-1 formation for Thursday’s 6pm kick-off.

DORUS DE VRIES
Wouldn’t be dropped, especially given the importance of the tie.

MIKAEL LUSTIG
Will likely come back into the side having been rested at the weekend. Hopefully won’t have a whole lot to do like last Thursday.

JOZO SIMUNOVIC
Was also rested at the weekend so he could return fresh and ready to put in a good defensive display. The playing surface at the Krestovsky Stadium is grass as opposed to astro-turf so the Bosnian will be all right to play.

KRISTOFFER AJER
Has really gotten into the stride of becoming a first-team regular. Still doesn’t look out of place. A solid partnership with Jozo will make it difficult for Zenit to break through.

KIERAN TIERNEY
Didn’t start in the goalless draw with St. Johnstone but did feature later on. It’s a no-brainer when it comes to starting him.

SCOTT BROWN
Returns to the team having served his one-match suspension at the weekend. His return will only inspire the team to perform at as high a standard as they did last week.

EBOUE KOUASSI
Showed how capable he was of stepping up and helping the team when he did so last Thursday. Hasn’t done anything to warrant being dropped from the starting XI.

JAMES FORREST
Provided pace and strength down the right-wing last week and caused Zenit some problems going forward. Would be a shock if he wasn’t selected from the start.

OLIVIER NTCHAM
Will get back into the swing of things having missed the weekend’s game due to illness. Has become such a vital part of the team since joining in the summer thanks to his glowing attributes.

CALLUM MCGREGOR
The man who scored the memorable goal to seal the win in the first-leg. The Scottish international was a handful for the opposition in the first-leg so a similar type of performance could potentially do the same kind of damage in Russia.

MOUSSA DEMBELE
The Frenchman’s link-up play in the first-leg was something to admire, as was his awareness off the ball. He’ll have an important role to play in Russia and will, of course, be looking to find the back of the net himself.

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About the Author

Kazeem Olawale

Kazeem Olawale

Kazeem Olawale, 24-year old sports writer. An avid Arsenal and Real Madrid fans. If not here, always making round on his banter Arsenal blog, www.goonerrepublic.com