Celtic v RB Leipzig: Jota in ‘wait and see’ over fitness for Champions League tie

Celtic's Sead Haksabanovic, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Alexandro Bernabei
Sead Haksabanovic, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Alexandro Bernabei are pushing for starting places after facing St Johnstone
Venue: Celtic Park, Glasgow Date: Tuesday, 11 October Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland Extra/DAB/810MW, live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou says he will have to “wait and see” whether Jota will be fit to face RB Leipzig in Champions League Group F on Tuesday.

The Portuguese winger “pulled up sore” at the weekend, when he was substituted at half-time in the 2-1 win over St Johnstone, the Australian revealed.

Centre-half Moritz Jenz and midfielder David Turnbull are available after illness ruled them out in Perth.

Timo Werner is fit despite feeling ill after Leipzig’s win over Mainz.

Saturday’s victory keeps Postecoglou’s side top of the Scottish Premiership, but they are still seeking a first win in this season’s Champions League group stage after a draw and two defeats, including last week’s 3-1 loss in Leipzig.

Leipzig, two points ahead of the Scots, warmed up for their trip to Glasgow with a 1-1 draw away to Mainz.

A late equaliser from striker Christopher Nkunku, who reportedly this week agreed to join Chelsea next summer, ensured they stayed ahead of their hosts on goal difference in 11th place in the Bundesliga.

It will be a second game for Celtic without captain Callum McGregor, who was injured in Leipzig.

“In terms of our style of play, I still think we have players within the group that can compensate for missing Callum,” Postecoglou said.

“I guess with Callum, he is one that has that experience at this level and he knows what’s required to win a game even at Champions League level and international level.”

Celtic have not won a Champions League group game at home since beating Ajax in 2013, a run that stretches eight matches, and Postecoglou suggests “it just goes to show how hard it is” at this level.

He reiterated that “it’s still a process” for his side to compete at this level and that the biggest thing they need to “get accustomed to, is that it is relentless”.

Leipzig head coach Marco Rose expects “a wild game from the outset”.

He is looking to improve on small details following last week’s game and feels they have learned from Celtic’s strong spell in the first half.

“It was only the 25 minutes before the break that we had to look at,” he said. “We have looked at it and now we are looking forward.”

Team news

Already having to do without injured McGregor through long-term injury, Celtic will not want to also be minus the equally influential Jota.

The return of Scotland cap Turnbull adds to the options available as Postecoglou decides who is best to fill the central midfield role vacated by McGregor, although Matt O’Riley played there on Saturday along with Reo Hatate and Sead Haksabanovic.

Meanwhile, Jenz will likely be back in central defence with Carl Starfelt still injured.

While former Chelsea forward Werner is available, Leipzig will also be without their captain, with Peter Gulacsi having had an operation on his knee after being forced off early against Celtic last week.

Norway’s former Norwich City and Aston Villa goalkeeper, Orjan Nyland, who was a free agent after leaving Reading, has been signed as a replacement, but he is ineligible for the Champions League and Janis Blaswich will almost certainly start after replacing Gulasci last week and against Mainz.

Rose made five other changes for that game, with those dropping out, including Andre Silva, who scored twice against Celtic, all on the bench and no doubt ready to return in Glasgow.

Choose your starting XI. It’s up to you how to approach it – you could go for the team you WANT the manager to pick or the one you THINK he will.

Celtic looking for home comforts – analysis

BBC Scotland’s Clive Lindsay

Celtic will hope it is a case of home sweet home as they look to reverse last week’s defeat in Germany.

Leipzig were beaten on their previous visit to Celtic Park in 2018 – and on their only other trip to Scotland, against Rangers last season.

Having already lost 3-0 to Real Madrid on their own patch, Postecoglou’s side certainly need to continue that sequence if they are to retain a chance of qualifying for the knock-out stage.

They will need to reignite the combination of intensity and clinical finishing that has tailed off in recent weeks, a task made more difficult by the loss of their midfield driving force, McGregor.

Leipzig impressed at home last week, but Rose’s team are without a win in four games away from home since thumping fourth-tier Teutonia Ottensen 8-0 in August – and that remains their only victory in seven games on the road this season.

Mid-table in the Bundesliga is below RB’s expectations and they arrive amid some internal turmoil, with Christopher Vivell having been dismissed as technical director on Thursday “due to differences of opinion” and Max Eberl lined up as the new managing director of sport.

Match stats

  • Celtic have lost two of their three European matches against RB Leipzig, but both defeats came away from home, with the Glasgow side winning 2-1 in the other game in November 2018 in the Europa League.
  • This will be RB Leipzig’s sixth European match against a Scottish opponent – they’ve won their three home games but lost both of their games in Scotland, 2-1 to Celtic in 2018 and 3-1 to Rangers in the Europa League semi-final last season.
  • Celtic have only kept one clean sheet in their last 23 matches in major European competition, winning 2-0 against Ferencarosi in October 2021 in the Europa League. They’ve shipped 55 goals across those matches, including seven this season.
  • RB Leipzig registered only their third win in their last 11 Champions League matches with their 3-1 win over Celtic last time out (D1 L7). Their last four wins in the competition have all come under different head coaches – Julian Nagelsmann, Jesse Marsch, Achim Beierlorzer and current team boss Marco Rose.
  • Celtic have lost each of their last six home games in the Champions League – if they lose this match, they would equal the longest run of home defeats by a team in the competition, previously set by Monaco between May 2017 and December 2018 (7).
  • RB Leipzig have lost six of their previous eight away games in the Champions League (W2). There have been 36 goals scored across these eight matches (14 for, 22 against), at an average of 4.5 per match.
  • No side has had more high turnovers ending with a shot than Celtic in the Champions League this season (8), although none of those have then led to a goal.
  • Christopher Nkunku scored his ninth Champions League goal for RB Leipzig against Celtic, equalling Emil Forsberg for the most goals for the club in the competition. Since the start of last season, only four players have more Champions League group-stage goals than him (8).
  • Andre Silva has been involved in 12 goals in 15 Champions League starts (9 goals, 3 assists) across spells with FC Porto and RB Leipzig. The forward had nine shots against Celtic, the most by a Leipzig player in a Champions League game.
  • Only Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior (18) has made more successful take-ons than Celtic’s Jota (10) in the Champions League this season, with Portuguese winger completing 63% of his take-on attempts so far (10/16).

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