The sight of Mikael Lustig checking in at Glasgow Airport this morning was welcome, but we should be pragmatic, six days is little time for a hamstring to remedy itself from what was clearly a concerning injury on Wednesday. Mikael should go through some stringent tests tomorrow morning but if there is any doubt of his fitness, he should not be risked.
Football is a 13 or 14 man game. Ronny will want to make two, possibly three, fatigue or tactical changes. Losing a player early to injury would severely hamper his options, allowing Ronny only one change, if he wants to keep a sub for late game, or extra time, contingencies. For what it’s worth, I believe the knocks taken by Lustig and Griffiths in the first leg cost us fresh legs, and ultimately territory, leading up to Malmo’s second.
Celtic’s perpetrations went a lot better than Malmo’s over the weekend. A comfortable win with what for all intents and purposes is our second 11, while Malmo put a full-strength team out, restored those suspended for last week’s Celtic game, and lost to lowly Hacken.
Journalists close to Malmo assure me the Swedes hope to tempt Celtic into an attacking formation, just as they did to Salzburg in the last round. Salzburg arrived full of confidence but were picked apart on the break. Celtic’s own pace on the break is one worry for Malmo, who want Celtic to play high up the field. The other is defending set-pieces. Hacken, who don’t have the height advantage of Celtic, scored from a corner kick on Saturday.
Winning free kicks 30 yards from goal would be useful. This is Kris Commons territory. Kris knows how to put his body between ball and man, and wait for the barge, although James Forrest displayed the same tactical-awareness in the first leg. I’d have Kris holding a training session tonight: “This is what to do with your first touch, this is where you put your bum, then wait….”
Protect the defence, break quickly through Forrest, Johansen and Griffiths, and allow van Dijk, Boyata, Bitton, Griffiths and Lustig/Ambrose to give Malmo something to worry about at set-pieces, and we’ll win this game.