At the beginning of the week, there was plenty of excitement about Ange Postecoglou’s first European campaign in the Celtic hot seat.

However, ahead of their opening group stage encounter, the Hoops have plenty of problems to contend with.

On the chalkboard

On the eve of their clash against Spanish opposition, Real Betis, the Bhoys were rocked by a plethora of injury blows.

Greg Taylor is set to undergo surgery on his shoulder while Callum McGregor will also miss out on Thursday due to a knock. Liel Abada will be absent due to religious reasons too.

The skipper has been nothing short of exceptional this season, scoring a belter against Midtjylland in the Champions League and then putting in a performance for Scotland that was hailed as the best for his country.

He has been the player who has set the tone all season long and leads by example. His style of play, breaking things up and then distributing, would have been particularly important against Betis too.

Should Soro start tonight?

Yes please!

Yes please!

No chance!

No chance!

They have enjoyed the third highest average possession in La Liga this term so Postecoglou will need to identify players who can disrupt the rhythm of a game quickly.

The solution

We initially claimed that Celtic needed to forget about a certain Ismaila Soro earlier this week in favour of new signing James McCarthy.

It was anticipated that the Irishman would start alongside McGregor in a two-man partnership at the base of Postecoglou’s midfield.

Against a team as formidable as Betis, it would be wise of Celtic to give themselves extra protection in front of defence.

Therefore, with the club captain missing on Thursday evening, they must turn to Soro once again.

Guess the shirt numbers from Celtic’s famous 2002/03 UEFA Cup side. Let’s start with Mohammed Sylla…

The Ivorian has been guilty of lacking discipline and positional awareness but when it comes to breaking up the play and stomping out attacks, there are few better in the Celtic side.

Described as a player with “explosive power” by former coach Ori Guttman, the tough-tackling midfield player could hold the keys to picking up points this week.

Crucially, he has already starred on the continental stage too. Against Lille in last season’s Europa League, the tenacious 5 foot 8 holding player registered a whopping ten tackles.

If the diminutive general can perform in a similar way again this week then he could be absolutely vital. Last season, for instance, only Jonjoe Kenny made more tackles per match than Soro from the club’s regular starters.

He is yet to find his best form this season but he should have an able partner beside him in McCarthy. It’s vital that the manager gets this particular selection spot on; it could decide things in Seville.

AND in other news, 83.3% duels won: Celtic surely regret losing 6ft4 “weapon” after European masterclass…

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