Tonight’s match in Romania will be a tough test for Celtic. FC Astra have yet to score a point in Group D of the Europa League, but with key players out for Celtic, Ronny Deila will have to dig deep for a draw, let alone a win.
Take nothing away from Celtic these past couple of weeks they have found some form. Last Saturday they exorcised the demon of winning more than three games in a row by beating Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Celtic took full advantage of home fixtures by winning four matches in a row at Celtic Park. It is a good period for the players as they are beginning to gel but tonight, some of those players are unavailable.
John Guidetti is of course ineligible for this phase of the tournament. Kris Commons is on the sidelines as is long term injury concern, Jams Forrest.
As late as leaving Glasgow Airport, Anthony Stokes was left behind due to illness. He like most of his team mates have found a bit of form of late, his being out on the left flank.
In terms of goal keeping, defence and midfield, Celtic should be okay. The concern for me is where the goals are going to come from.
Leigh Griffiths weighed in recently with a double against Partick Thistle. His only issue is whether he gets picked or not.
The main responsibility comes from Stefan Šćepović. He got off the mark recently and has looked hungrier, but he didn’t start at the weekend.
It may well be Ronny Deila was resting him and keeping him focussed on this match in Romania. With a further two games to follow in the group stage, this group is far from over but it is a good opportunity to notch up an away win.
After half of the games played, FC Astra are currently the whipping boys of Group D and Celtic will not want to be the first opponent to give them points. This group is still wide open so picking up maximum points in Romania tonight will go a long way to helping Celtic qualify for the last sixteen.
This is only FC Astra’s second home tie in the round. Having been narrowly beaten 2-1 by Salzburg in their first home match, they will be looking for something out of this game.
Celtic won the first game over the Romanians 2-1 at Celtic Park. They received a scare late in the game when Enache scored in the 81st minute, but Celtic held on.
Tonight Celtic must be more clinical in attack and switched on in defence, particularly towards the end of the game. Celtic have not won an away game in Europe since they beat KR Reykjavik and tonight may be their best chance in this group.
The line-up for this game is important so it will be interesting to see how Ronny Deila sets up this evening. Celtic don’t need to do anything radical for this match, just keep it simple.