Champions League action returns to Celtic Park tonight as we reach the Play-Off stage of the competition.
Brendan Rodgers’ men are just two matches away from the promised land of the group stages but they of course cannot overlook the task which is currently in front of them. Tonight they go head to head with FC Astana of Kazhakstan.
They reached this stage of the competition after knocking out Rosenborg in the previous round. A first leg 0-0 draw at Celtic Park set up a knife edge return leg in Norway last month. One that would see James Forrest score a second half winner to dump out the Norwegian champions.
Celtic’s start to the domestic season has got off to the ideal start with two wins from two matches, an opening day win over Hearts was then added to last weekend by a slender 1-0 win away at Partick Thistle, a result that Celtic fans would be more than content with later on.
In the four Champions League matches that they have played this season they have kept four clean sheets, if they can make it five in a row then it would have to be considered a job well done before moving onto next week’s second leg.
Leigh Griffiths has gone on record and stated that he is fit and ready to go for tonight’s encounter, he has been recently troubled by a calf problem which only saw him feature as a substitute in the previous round win over Rosenborg.
It is however not good news for Moussa Dembele who has failed to recover from his injury in time while central defensive pair Erik Sviatchenko and Dedryck Boyata. Sviatchenko has not featured since limping off against Rosenborg early on.
These two teams are familiar foes as they met as recently as last season at the Third Qualifying Round stage, that tie would eventually see Celtic edge past Astana by a scoreline of 3-2. I would expect it to be another close call Tonight but I think the Scottish champions will be able to take the early ascendancy in this tie going into the return leg.