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Aug 5, 2021 at 4.45pm UK
JablonecFK Baumit Jablonec
2-4
CelticCeltic
Pilar (17'), Bitton (85' og.)
Surzyn (75'), Zeleny (88')
FT(HT: 1-2)
Abada (12'), Furuhashi (16'), Forrest (64'), Christie (90')
Taylor (54')

Preview: FK Baumit Jablonec vs. Celtic - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: FK Baumit Jablonec vs. Celtic - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between FK Baumit Jablonec and Celtic, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Following their awful start to the new season, Celtic travel to the Czech Republic on Thursday, seeking to overcome FK Baumit Jablonec and keep their European campaign alive.

The pair meet in the third qualifying round of the Europa League after the Hoops crashed out of Champions League contention, while the Czech side enter at this stage as reward for finishing third in the Fortuna Liga last term.


Match preview

Having suffered an opening day defeat for the first time in 24 years last weekend, Celtic's quest to recover their Premiership title began in the same manner their continental campaign has gone thus far.

New manager Ange Postecoglou's tough start to life at the Glasgow giants continued with a 2-1 loss to Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday night, just days after his team exited the Champions League qualifying process at the hands of Danish champions Midtjylland after extra time.

As they now prepare to face Jablonec in the first leg of their Europa League qualifying clash on Thursday, the under-pressure Bhoys will be aware that defeat across the two legs would result in another ignominious demotion - this time to the unfancied Europa Conference League.

Needing to beat their Czech counterparts to secure a playoff with Eredivisie outfit AZ Alkmaar for a place in the Europa League group stages, should Postecoglou and company fail, their next European engagement will be versus either Tobol Kostanay of Kazakhstan or Slovakia's Zilina in the third-tier tournament.

Previously crushed 6-2 by West Ham United in a pre-season friendly, recent events can have done nothing for a youthful team's confidence, with their Australian head coach still searching for a first win since stepping into the dugout.

Certainly, Celtic's struggles of last season have not diminished with time, as they found themselves defensively exposed on several occasions. Some belated new signings might help in that regard, but their freshly-arrived former Premier League stars may not be ready for this week's first leg.

Therefore, the rearguard which has started this season so shakily will journey to Jablonec, where Thursday's early kickoff sees the return of a full crowd to the hosts' Stadion Strelnice, which has a capacity of just over 6,000.

Shortly after defeating Dynamo Moscow in their final pre-season friendly last month, the modest Czech club - yet to be crowned national champions in their long history - started their domestic campaign with a 1-0 win over Banik Ostrava at their unassuming headquarters.

However, the side managed by Petr Rada were soundly beaten 3-0 away from home against Mlada Boleslav on Saturday - far from the ideal preparation for Celtic's visit.

Though they finished 18 points behind unbeaten Czech champions Slavia Prague in 2020-21, Jablonec were among the top goalscorers in the league and ended the season just five points in arrears to the other major capital club, Sparta.

As they have only once before qualified for the group stage of the Europa League - when they finished last in their section back in 2018 - former Czech Republic coach Rada will be lauded as a hero if he can engineer a route past Celtic, and then AZ, to return there this year.

FK Baumit Jablonec form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • L

Celtic form (all competitions):
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • L

Team News

Though former England goalkeeper Joe Hart has penned a three-year deal at Celtic after leaving his back-up role at Tottenham Hotspur, the clash with Jablonec could come too soon for him. Both Vasilis Barkas and Scott Bain have both failed to convince either fans or management of their capabilities, but the latter is favourite to start on Thursday.

Ex-Crystal Palace and Everton midfielder James McCarthy is another welcome addition to a thin playing staff at Parkhead, having signed a four-year contract as a free agent this week, but is also not expected to feature until the second leg.

Celtic will, though, be able to welcome Nir Bitton back to European action, after he served a suspension following his needless red card in the first game with Midtjylland. That should allow teenage centre-back Dane Murray to drop back to the bench after deputising in Denmark - his fellow defender Christopher Jullien continues to recover from a long-term knee injury, but Carl Starfelt is ready to start.

Experienced striker Leigh Griffiths is still doubtful due to a calf strain, with Odsonne Edouard set to be joined in attack by Ryan Christie and Liel Abada. However, Japanese forward Kyogo Furuhashi made his debut from the bench against Hearts last weekend and is also a contender.

Meanwhile, hosts Jablonec tend to set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, which can morph into a solid five-man midfield when required, and Martin Dolezal - who has appeared over 200 times for the club - will lead the line on his own.

Former Shakhtar Donetsk defensive mainstay Tomas Hubschman, now 39, is on the books at Stadion Strelnice, but is behind regular centre-back pair Jakub Martinec and Jaroslav Zelezny in the pecking order.

FK Baumit Jablonec possible starting lineup:
Hanus; Stepanek, Martinec, Zelezny, Krob; Povazanek, Kubista; Plestil, Kratochvil, Malinski; Dolezal

Celtic possible starting lineup:
Bain; Ralston, Starfelt, Bitton, Taylor; Turnbull, Soro; Abada, McGregor, Christie; Edouard


We say: FK Baumit Jablonec 1-1 Celtic

It will take a while for Ange Postecoglou to mould Celtic into a competitive unit after last season's travails, but his team must at least avoid defeat at Jablonec to stop the knives coming out.

As the Glasgow giants' planned comeback has got off to a slow start, their underestimated opponents can secure a first-leg draw - keeping them in the tie until next week's return at a potentially anxious Parkhead.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data



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Match previews - twice weekly
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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool64201541114
2Manchester CityMan City64111211113
3Chelsea64111221013
4Manchester UnitedMan Utd6411135813
5Everton6411127513
6Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton540174312
7West Ham UnitedWest Ham6321138511
8Aston Villa631297210
9Brentford62318539
10Arsenal6303510-59
11Tottenham HotspurSpurs630349-59
12Watford621379-27
13Leicester CityLeicester6213710-37
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves620435-26
15Crystal Palace512258-35
16Southampton604247-34
17Newcastle UnitedNewcastle6033714-73
18Leeds UnitedLeeds6033614-83
19Burnley6024511-62
20Norwich CityNorwich6006216-140
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