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Question marks are beginning to be raised over Neil Lennon’s future after a week where Celtic lost twice to Rangers and AC Milan, before succumbing to a draw at Aberdeen, though some of the reaction has been over the top.
It’s worth noting that the Gers are a much-improved outfit under Steven Gerrard, Milan are enjoying a phenomenal run of form which now stands at 16 wins from 22 unbeaten matches since the resumption of Serie A after Covid-19 drew proceedings to a halt, while Aberdeen have consistently been the best of the rest in Scotland behind the Old Firm duo in recent times.
However, defensively, the Hoops simply haven’t been good enough and the lack of pace at the back keeps getting exposed, with eight goals conceded across those last three outings.
Summer signing Shane Duffy in particular has come in for plenty of criticism, receiving further flack due to his limited ability in possession, which has appeared incompatible with the club’s tactics as Celtic have tried to play out from the back.
Lille To Beat Celtic
Hosts Lille remain unbeaten in the new campaign with six victories from nine matches, with four of the last five seeing them win by minimum two-goal margins.
They’re level with PSG on points at the head of Ligue 1, while in fact they’ve now won 10 of their last 13 on home turf since late November as they only conceded in one of those victories.
Their only four defeats here last term were inflicted by quality outfits Marseille, PSG, Ajax and Chelsea, so it’s easy to work out why they start as massive favourites for this clash.
Celtic’s best performances in Europe invariably come at home and on the road, they’ve only won four of 55 trips since 2003/04 from the group stage onwards.
That includes seven defeats from the last 11 of these since October 2017, and even excluding encounters with heavyweights Bayern and PSG, they only scored once across defeats to Zenit, Salzburg, Leipzig, Valencia and CFR Cluj.
Celtic should improve with the possible returns of Nir Bitton and star striker Odsonne Edouard here, while Hatem Abd Elhamed is also nearing a return to fitness.
However, James Forest, Vasilis Barkas and Christopher Julien all remain sidelined. The potential presence of the in-demand Edouard discourages us from backing the win to nil, but the hosts have started the season very well and having netted 12 times in four outings, should outgun their visitors, who continue to look very shaky at the back.