Date: 9th July 2016 at 5:15pm
Written by:

The Celtic team to play Maribor tonight is a cracker.

It is a superb team selection, the kind we’ve all wanted to see for ages.

Yes, Ambrose in there and yes it also includes Johansen instead of the far better Stuart Armstrong but it has two men up front, ably supported by the brilliant Ryan Christie.

This is going to be close to the team that plays in midweek in the first Champions League qualifiers.

Short of a signing who goes straight into the side this is the general outline.

Janko plays again from the start; the manager likes this kid and so do I.

He’s got great running ability and we’re going to need players who can really put in a shift this year.

The Brown – Bitton central midfield axis seems like his preferred pairing; the only question we’ll be asking week on week is about who fills out the other two slots.

This looks, again, like a three in the middle team; I’d imagine Christie will play in “the hole” behind the twin strikers.

That’s a good system; that’s an attack system.

It gives us solidity in the middle whilst allowing improving our attacking options.

I could be wrong of course; he may be putting Johansen or Bitton in a round hole, shoving one of them out wide. That might do as a stop gap but it’s not a permanent solution or one we want to be going with for too long. This feels like a middle three, like a fundamental change in the way the team works. That’s supported by the way he has Janko and Tierney playing on the wing.

As ever I’ll try to have a piece up shortly after the game.

For the moment:

CELTIC starting XI v Maribor; Gordon; Janko, Ambrose, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Bitton, Johansen; Griffiths, Dembele, Christie

Subs: Bailly, Fasan, Izaguirre, Ciftci, Lindsay, Armstrong, Rogic, Allan, Lustig, Roberts, O’Connell, Ajer, Fisher, McGregor, Forrest