Celtic v Linfield

This evening, Celtic will play their first competitive home game of the season. With a 2-0 lead from Friday’s match in Belfast, Brendan Rodgers will be looking to end this tie with Linfield without too much fuss.

Leigh Griffiths is said to be a doubt for the match whilst being treated for an injury, but Celtic have not yet confirmed this. The Scotland striker, who was subjected to missile throwing, questionable refereeing and bureaucratic UEFA action from the first leg, it would be more likely Leigh is being kept out of the limelight until things settle down.

Since the UEFA ruling, Brendan Rodgers has come out and stated that Griffiths should learn from this lesson. He has also supported the player though in that he would never consider moving him on which seems to be the angle the media have.

His opposite number, David Healy, has also come clean about the actions of the Linfield fans and said that he did see missile throwing and condemned the behaviour of the Linfield offenders. It’s a bit of a turn around, but he’s obviously kept his mouth shut until UEFA made their position known.

After the storm of Friday’s match, I hope that tonight will be focussed on the football rather than those use matches as a supporter’s battleground. I don’t often say that, but the first leg has left a bad taste in the mouth completely.

Police Scotland put out a strong message to the fans of both teams. With the match already a sell out, there will be plenty of noise to keep the Linfield fans quiet.

Similarly, I’ll be looking for the Bhoys to silence the opposition on the park. With Boyata already out and Griffiths a doubt, there are opportunities for others to come in.

Celtic picked up five bookings from the first leg and could opt to rest some of those on a yellow card. Any player to pick up a third yellow card in these qualifying games would receive a one match suspension for the next game although entering the group phase would wipe the slate clean, should Celtic get there.

The question for Brendan Rodgers today is how much does he want to interfere with the team? The quick answer is that there are plenty players who will be bursting at the seams to play.

Potentially there could be starting slots for any number of players from the first team.  Above that, there are a plethora of youth players on the B list who are also available to Brendan Rodgers.

The current squad registered with UEFA is as follows:

Player List A: Craig Gordon, Dorus de Vries, Emilio Izaguirre, Jozo Šimunović (yellow card), Cristian Gamboa, Dedryck Boyata, Mikael Lustig, Erik Sviatchenko, Nir Bitton, Scott Brown (yellow card), Scott Sinclair, Stuart Armstrong (yellow card), Tom Rogić (yellow card), Olivier Ntcham, Kundai Benyu, Kristoffer Ajer, Callum McGregor, James Forrest, Kouassi Eboué, Leigh Griffiths (yellow card), Moussa Dembélé and Jonny Hayes.

Player List B: Conor Hazard, Kieran Tierney, Ross Doohan, Sam Wardrop, Jamie McCart, Stephen Welsh, Kerr McInroy, Lewis Bell, Wallace Duffy, Joe Thomson, Liam Henderson, Aidan Nesbitt, Ross McLaughlin, Regan Hendry, Calvin Miller, Mark Hill, Broque Watson, Michael Johnston and Jack Aitchison.

I do think Brendan will make changes, but whether he drops all five on yellows or just some remains to be seen. It could well be that all will play, but just for part of the game.

Whatever way it goes, Celtic have this tie in the bag. Before kick-off they will know who they will face next week due to the time difference and early kick-off in Trondheim.

Odds are that Rosenborg will see off Dundalk having taken a point and an away goal back to Norway. I’m sure Dundalk won’t go down without a fight though.

Having made the group phase of the Europa League last season they have that achievement to build upon. Rosenborg’s European adventure ended at the play-offs last season so they have amends to make.

Good luck to both teams. Look forward to facing the winner next week.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

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