Real Madrid will begin their defence of their UEFA Champions League crown when they face Celtic in what is the pick of this opening matchday.

The Old Firm Derby on Saturday saw Celtic thrash bitter rivals Rangers 4-0, and they could not have prepared for a mega clash with Real Madrid in midweek any better. Ange Postecoglou will be hoping for momentum against the European champions after winning all of their seven games this campaign.

This would be Celtic’s first UEFA Champions League game since they finished third in the 2017-18 group stages. While the Bhoys have maintained their stature in Scotland, they must grasp their European endeavours.

Celtic had not progressed beyond the group stages since the 2012-23 season when they went down 5-0 to Juventus. But this season, they might hope for a more progressive campaign in the continental tournament. With Real Madrid favorites to top this group, Celtic can hope to battle for the second spot with the likes of RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Champions League holders Real Madrid have had a steady transfer window and have superbly begun their season. The Merengues have won their first four games of the 2022/23 La Liga season and are on the top of the domestic charts.

With Carlo Ancelotti’s side looking like a formidable force this season, they will enter the Champions League as favourites. Los Blancos have already won European silverware this season by beating Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Super Cup, although they will be eager to get their hands on the big prize.

Ancelotti will know a solid start will be imperative for their chances, as topping the group will be of utmost priority. After Celtic, they will have to face the challenges of Shakhtar Donetsk and RB Leipzig. For now, their trip to Celtic does look like the pick of this matchday.

Team News & Tactics

Celtic

Ange Postecoglou will not be eager to change his style or become more pragmatic in the event of facing Real Madrid. The Celtic manager would prefer to retain the 4-3-3 attacking formation that has worked well this season.

Celtic did lose Kyogo Furuhashi to a shoulder injury early on in their clash with Rangers at the weekend, as he is sure to sit out the Real Madrid clash. Carl Starfelt also suffered a knee problem in the same game, which doubts him about remaining on the team.

Oliver Abildgaard has been pushing to be involved since his arrival on loan from Rubin Kazan. Meanwhile, Yosuke Ideguchi is also doubtful with a leg injury. Postecoglou can call upon Jota and Liel Abada into the side against Madrid, with the pair performing at the highest level against Rangers.

Moritz Jenz could replace Starfelt in the lineup and play alongside Cameron Carter-Vickers in central defence. Josip Juranovic will assume his place at right-back, with Greg Taylor on the other flank. Joe Hart will continue with his presence in the Celtic goal.

Probable lineup (4-3-3): Hart; Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Jenz, Taylor; O’Riley, McGregor, Turnbull; Abada, Giakoumakis, Jota

Real Madrid

Carlo Ancelotti will have a healthy squad to face Celtic and begin Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League defence with a strong lineup. Jesus Vallejo and Alvaro Odriozola are the only possible absentees, with the duo the Real Betis clash at the weekend.

Ancelotti might make a few changes to the side that beat Betis. Federico Valverde and Toni Kroos could come into the lineup, with Rodrygo Goes and Eduardo Camavinga likely to make way for the duo. The Real Madrid manager could opt for Antonio Rudiger a spot in the side, but the German might remain on the bench.

The defensive unit might have familiar names, with Dani Carvajal, Eder Militao, David Alaba and Fermald Mendy all starting. The departure of Casemiro means Aurelien Tchouameni is the anchor midfielder for Real Madrid, with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric playing on either side of the Frenchman.

Valverde is expected in the front three, with Karim Benzema leading the line and Vinicius Junior attacking from the left-hand side.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Modric, Tchouameni, Kroos; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.

Key Stats

  • Celtic have won seven games in a row coming into the clash with Real Madrid.
  • Celtic last advanced through their group in the UEFA Champions League in 2012/13.
  • Celtic played in the group stage of the Champions League in 2017/18.
  • Real Madrid have not kept a clean sheet in their last 4 games.
  • Real Madrid have won five games in a row in all competitions.

Player To Watch

Vinicius Junior

The Brazilian attacker has been one of the talked about names in the last 18 months. Vinicius Jr. will be eager to return to the competition for the first time since scoring the winner in the 2022 final against Liverpool in May. There will be impetus on his shoulders to lead Real Madrid and become their main attacking force of this team.

However, Vinicius Jr. needs to start the campaign strongly and not wait to improve his performance late during the knockout phases. He is one of the biggest stars on the pitch, and all eyes will surely be on the Brazilian.

Prediction

Celtic 1-2 Real Madrid

Going to Glasgow and playing Celtic is not an easy task for any team, even Real Madrid. On paper, it may seem like a routine task for Carlo Ancelotti’s men, but it is far from it, as the atmosphere at Celtic Park is good enough to motivate their team to score.

However, Real Madrid have the momentum of winning the competition and the tag of firm favourites on their shoulders. Moreover, their squad quality is far better than Celtic’s, which would swing the result in their favour. However, this does promise to be an entertaining clash, with the home side expected to score at some stage.

2 Responses to “Celtic vs Real Madrid Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Star kid says:

    It’s a 1-2 sure winning

  2. Hawraa Abbas says:

    Come on and Hala Madrid 🤍🖤

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