Rosenborg – Celtic | The Preview

Rosenborg vs Celtic (Europa League)

Thursday, 29th November

Lerkendal Stadium, Trondheim

 

The Denmark Prison Blues

“Well, if they freed me from this prison
If that railroad train was mine
I bet I’d move out over a little
Farther down the line
Far from Folsom Prison
That’s where I want to stay
And I’d let that lonesome whistle
Blow my blues away”

They say timing is everything in life, and Celtic is travelling the well-worn path to Trondheim at what looks like the perfect time. Last weekend Rosenborg celebrated their fourth consecutive league title and this weekend they take on Strømsgodset in the Norwegian Cup Final. While they still have a theoretical chance to progress from the group, judging by their last three games against Leipzig and Salzburg they seem to have given up all hope already.

They are highly likely to be a lot less motivated for Celtic with a vacation to Marbella as double winners to start their extended Christmas break the priority for players and staff: Celtic could be facing a side filled with changes from the usual XI.

Of course, a jaunt to Marbz is not on the cards for Rosenborg striker Nicklas Bendtner, as the Lord will be going on a five-month loan to Lockup FC. Though it is still undecided when Bendtner will be heading to the slammer for 50 days, the beautiful face of Leigh Griffiths could be the lasting image of the outside for the Lord.

Will his impending lock-up inspire Bendtner to give his all in his last few days of freedom or will his impending hard time be on his mind? Since Bendtner has not scored in 11 league matches, I am betting on the latter.

Celtic supporters have – with good reason – been conditioned to predict impending doom on any European away trip. However, after a comprehensive victory over Hamilton at the weekend and a brilliant performance and win over Energy Drink Conglomerate FC German Branch could there be reason for….gasp…optimism!?

Others might still be doubters but I’m here to tell you: Believe Celtic supporters! Believe! Rosenborg are mediocre at full strength (trust me, I know ) and I don’t believe they will even be full-strength on Thursday. Celtic know they need to win to set up a great European night vs Salzburg at home for the final game –  it’s time for Celtic to get that metaphorical away-in-Europe-monkey off their back.

 

Last five meetings:

 

Line-ups:

Scott Brown is back training after a lengthy layoff due to injury, but has he lost his starting position? Celtic have certainly seemed revitalised since Ryan Christie was subbed in for Brown in the League Cup semi-final against Hearts and you would expect Brendan Rodgers to continue to employ him and McGregor in the centre of midfield. The two Scottish midfielders’ performances have Celtic supporters wondering if the Hoops are better off without the once seemingly un-droppable Brown.

In front of Christie and McGregor, Rodgers will likely start Odsonne Edouard and Scott Sinclair, Tom “Feet” Rogic and James Forrest in attacking midfield roles. Forrest is putting up player of the year numbers so far, averaging 0.61 goals per 90 minutes and 0.41 assists per 90. Looking at his underlying numbers, as we often do at Modern Fitba , he is averaging 0.31 xG per 90 and 0.29 xA per 90. These figures could suggest that Forrest is perhaps due a bit of regression when it comes to goals and assists but they still are among the best in the league.

Due to injuries and not being Jack Hendry, Filip Benkovic and Dedryk Boyata will start at center back for Celtic. Our large adult son Kieran Tierney will be terrorising the Rosenborg wings while Brendan will look at the list of right backs at the club not named Cristian Gamboa, sigh, and pencil in Mikael Lustig’s name.

Even with presumed rotation in the Rosenborg squad, most Celtic supporters will know the inner workings of the Trondheim club due to this being the sixth meeting in less than 18 months. Except that is for Samuel Adegbenro. After thriving at Viking, the Nigerian winger earned a move to Rosenborg last summer and was expected to be perhaps the biggest profile in the league this season before an ankle injury in the second round saw him sidelined for seven months.

Even if some Rosenborg starters are rested, Adegbenro could well feature on Thursday to continue to work his way back to fitness. The left winger is both a goal threat and a creator, scoring 3 goals in only 455 league minutes and 2 assists in Rosenborg’s Europa League group stages matches after his comeback. He is full of pace and skill and could be a worry for Celtic on Thursday.

Young Swede Jonathan Levi might well start on the opposite wing with Bendtner in the middle. Mike Jensen will be the “attacking” central midfielder, in the sense he will attack Tom Rogic’s ankles in the way you would expect a veteran central midfielder and team captain to do.

Perhaps the best indicator on what type of season it was for Rosenborg is that keeper Andre Hansen was chosen as the player of the year in Norway and he is likely to start on Thursday to keep sharp for the cup final.

Vegar Eggen Hedenstad and Birger Meling typically start for Rosenborg and are very capable attacking full-backs, but I suspect at least one will be rested. Even Hovland and Tore Reginiussen are veteran center backs that usually are in the eleven, but Tore is 32 years old and a prime candidate to be rested.

 

Key battles:

  • You vs. Humming “Folsom Prison Blues” Every Time Bendtner touches the Ball: It has not been a season to remember for the Greatest Striker in the World. In addition to his impending time behind bars, he has only scored 5 league goals this season with none in his last 11 league matches.
  • Samuel Adegbenro vs. Mikael Lustig:  If he plays, Adegbenro is the wild card for Rosenborg in this match,  a vastly talented player that Celtic has yet to come across. Celtic’s “defensive crisis” of the beginning of the season has seemed to stabilise recently, but Mikael Lustig’s flaws are still there and Adegbenro is the type of player that can exploit them to devastating effect.
  • Rosenborg vs. Thinking About What Lewd Things they will do with the Norwegian “Kings Cup”: Rosenborg will be favorites in their Cup Final on Sunday and could be drawing inspiration from last season’s cup winners Lillestrom when it comes to their post-match celebrations. Controversy ensued when LSK defender Aleksander Melgalvis Andreassean was pictured using the “King’s Cup” to cover his…um…”ball playing center back”. If they are victorious on Sunday, surely Nicklas Bendtner will be able to easily top that!

 

Prediction: Rosenborg 0, Celtic 2

 

(Original logo art by Frankie Mitchell)


Matt is a Celtic supporter born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and is a graduate of the University of Dayton (Go Flyers!). A few years ago, Matt learned about the burgeoning field of analytics in football. Excited with this new knowledge, he could not wait to apply this newfound wisdom to his beloved Celtic and the rest of Scottish football. However, he soon found that there was very little available when it came to these advanced stats for Scottish football. Taking matter into his own hands, Matt decided to track these various stats for Celtic. However, he soon realised he wanted to know how Celtic and it's players compared to their title rivals in Scotland. Then he wanted to compare every club in the SPFL Premiership. This slippery slope led to Matt tracking the stats for every club and player in the SPFL Premiership and Championship, as well as in depth blogs on specific topics in Scottish Football on his blog, The Backpass Rule (https://thebackpassrule.wordpress.com/). He can also be found on twitter under @thebackpassrule


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