Key tasks for Celtic ahead of Champions League clash with Anderlecht

The last time Celtic faced Anderlecht in the Champions League group stage Leigh Griffiths, Patrick Roberts and Scott Sinclair all scored in a fantastic 3-0 victory in Brussels.

It was the first ever time ‘the Hoop’s have kept a clean sheet away from home at this level, and was one of their best performances with 63% possession.

Now, Celtic will be hoping to replicate that performance as they go up against Belgian champions again on Tuesday.

So what can Celtic do to ensure a chance against Anderlecht?

Don’t play Oliver Ntcham too deep

When Celtic played Anderlecht in September, they used a 4-1-4-1 formation. This meant that Ntcham was sitting in a lot deeper than Tom Rogic to the point that he was almost alongside Scott Brown. But this area was too congested for him to operate.

As the game went on, Brendan Rodgers encouraged him to push a little bit higher up the park and move a little out to the left to work with Sinclair and Kieran Tierney. It wasn’t a massive change – only a few yards laterally and vertically – however, it gave him just enough space to plat his game that little bit easier, and Celtic benefited as a result.

In fact, it was this change that lead to a transformation in his performance when he won back possession and passing the ball to Sinclair to secure their third goal.

Not putting Ntcham too deep means that the Frenchman won’t find himself pressured into making mistakes too often,

James Forrest could be even better than Patrick Roberts

The last time the Celtic faced Anderlecht, Roberts was included in the starting XI. This time, Roberts is injured and James Forrest is most likely going to start.

The one thing Roberts did well was cover French wingback, Dennis Appiah, with real vigour.

However, Forrest is a much stronger player for Champions League games because of his speed, tactical discipline and defensive work. Playing Roberts instead of Forrest could have meant that Celtic might miss out on two out of three of these things.

Anderlecht are prone to using their wingbacks to cross the ball so that their three forwards can focus on attacking the penalty area. So shutting down that avenue would be an important part of winning the game, and Forrest can do that.

Not to mention that hardly any player can match Forrest’s speed, which is something Celtic will need on Tuesday.

Having a back four meant Celtic shut down Anderlecht attack

Back in September, Celtic took on the Belgian giants with a regimented back four that worked in perfect harmony to catch Anderlecht’s attackers offside again and again.

This crushed any chance of them building some real momentum, which in turn highlighted the organisation of the first team squad.

Anderlecht had 11 shots, and only three of of them managed to be on target. They also had three corners and none of which made a dent on Celtic’s defensive wall.

Get Nir Bitton on the ball

The one thing Celtic need to do most on Tuesday is keep a hold of the ball. Last time, where they had 63% possession, they managed to score three goals. If they can secure most of the possession and give Anderlecht as little time as possible with the ball then Anderlecht won’t be able to score.

This is where Bitton comes in. If he’s fit, Bitton should definitely be in the starting XI because he is one of Celtic’s best players for doing exactly this.

Not only that, but Celtic will have a better chance if Bitton is paired with Dedryck Boyata. Jozo Šimunović hasn’t played enough and therefore wouldn’t be strong enough against a Champions League team.

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