19:45 BST, Tuesday 31st October, Celtic Park (Glasgow), BT Sport
Fresh from equalling a 100-year-old record at the weekend against Kilmarnock, Celtic know they are in for a much sterner test on Tuesday night when they host Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich at Celtic Park. Despite looking like they will coast their way to yet another Scottish Premiership title, the Hoops are finding life much tougher in the Champions League and would find themselves on the verge of elimination if they were to fail to get points against the side from Bavaria.
Showing signs of potential fatigue when labouring to a draw against Kilmarnock at the weekend, Celtic will need to put in the kind of performance that saw them brush aside Belgian side Anderlecht if they are to stand any chance against five-time champions Bayern Munich.
Bayern dispatched last season’s title rivals RB Leipzig 2-0 on Saturday, having struggled to a draw on Wednesday night against the same side before eventually knocking them out of the German Cup on penalties. Die Roten have been below-par by their high standards so far this season and find themselves three points behind group leaders Paris Saint-Germain already.
Last Time Out
Bayern Munich 3-0 Celtic (Champions League)
When the sides met two weeks previously for the reverse fixture at the Allianz Arena, it was Bayern Munich who came out very much on top. With Germany internationals Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich both scoring within the opening half an hour, the game was all but over before it had really begun.
As the game went on, Bayern were in total control and it was only a matter of time before a third goal was scored. It came through the unlikeliest of sources: defender Mats Hummels finishing powerfully from a corner. Despite a late rally from Celtic that included a disallowed goal from Scott Sinclair, the result never really looked in doubt.
With Celtic continuing to miss their injured first-choice centre back pairing of Jozo Simunovic and Erik Sviatchenko, it is likely that midfielder Nir Biton will have to fill-in as he has been doing in recent matches with varying degrees of success.
Manager Brendan Rodgers continues to face the same selection headache over which striker to pick – Leigh Griffiths or Moussa Dembele.
Bayern Munich Line-up
Bundesliga top-scorer Robert Lewandowski remains a doubt to start for Bayern Munich after suffering a minor hamstring injury. Bayern are also without two of their other attacking threats in Thomas Muller and Franck Ribery.
Captain Manuel Neuer remains out with his long-term metatarsal fracture, so second-choice keeper Sven Ulreich will keep his place in the starting line-up.
Key Battle: Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) vs Kieran Tierney (Celtic)
Kieran Tierney is the most highly-rated young talent to emerge out of Scotland in years and his shining displays at both left-back and right-back for Celtic and Scotland have led to serious interest in the 20-year old from leading Premier League clubs. The PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year in both of the last two seasons, he’ll be strong favourite to make it a hat-trick of awards come the end of the season.
Tierney will have his work cut-out on Tuesday night, though, facing arguably one of the greatest wide players of this generation in Arjen Robben. The ex-Chelsea man seems to be enjoying his football again after the return of Jupp Heynckes as manager and will be looking to test Celtic’s Tierney, 13 years his junior. Everyone knows that Robben loves to cut inside and shoot, but few can stop him.
Should Brendan Rodgers start Leigh Griffiths or Moussa Dembele in attack?
Rodgers, the ex-Liverpool boss, finds himself with the ultimate selection headache for any manager, as his two best players both play in the same position. Originally opting for the highly-rated France Under-21 star Moussa Dembele, an injury to the former Fulham man has allowed Leigh Griffiths back in the side this season.
Griffiths has a fantastic goals record and has shown himself to be a big game player for both club and country: his two free-kick goals within minutes of each other against England earlier this year proving as much. However, with Griffiths having caused the Bayern defence few problems in the reverse fixture at the Allianz Arena, Brendan Rodgers may be tempted to give Dembele a go.
Dembele is no slouch in front of goal: he has five goals in all competitions this season compared to Griffiths’ eight, but these have come in half as many games
Will Bayern be affected by the famous Celtic Park atmosphere?
“I’ve been fortunate enough to play in some great stadiums in Europe but none compare to Celtic.” So spoke Lionel Messi of Celtic Park in 2013.
The previous year that atmosphere had seen Guardiola’s Barcelona, perhaps the greatest club side ever, lose at the ground to a Hoops side propelled by the unbelievable atmosphere generated by the crowd. The players will hope for something similar to help them against another European giant on Tuesday night.
Prediction: Celtic 1-2 Bayern Munich
Whilst there is a massive gulf in class between the two teams, it is difficult to measure the loss of leadership that Bayern have suffered with Manuel Neuer, Frank Ribery and Thomas Muller all out injured. They looked limp against a ten-man Red Bull Leipzig on Saturday and Celtic will look to take advantage of playing against a second-choice goalkeeper. However, it is likely that they will fall just short, with Bayern’s class evident at all times.
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