If Celtic were at full strength, I would fancy them tonight. As it is, we will be able to select our normal defensive lineup, midfield will be without our fulcrum Reo Hatate, and a lengthening list of wingers are absent from the forward line.
Along with the rest of the team, Yang did not set the pitch alight against Motherwell on Saturday, but as he left the field clutching his hamstring late in the game, Brendan Rodgers’s heart must have dropped a little further.
Already without Liel Abada, Daizen Maeda and the suspended Luis Palma, his choices are limited to James Forrest and Mikey Johnston. For a manager who often likes to change both his wingers during a game, Brendan is looking at Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard. Four games into the Champions League campaign, our only point came as a result of an unexpected formation change by Brendan, when he went three at the back at home to Atletico Madrid. For me, this felt like an unnecessary risk at the time, but what do I know? It is maybe time for another experimental formation tonight.
Lazio in The Eternal City were the opponents in one of our greatest European away results in the last 20 years. That night in 2019, the home team took an early lead and threatened to bury Celtic during a period of unrelenting pressure, but we stuck to task and the aforementioned James Forrest took his chance to level the game.
So often it is not the great things a team does, it is their opponent’s mistakes, which settles a game. Lazio are as vulnerable to a mistake tonight as they were in the final minute of that game four years ago. Keep it tight, no mistakes, and who knows?
And remember, it’s an early kick-off, 17:45.