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Matches like this are what the Champions League group stage are all about. The reigning Scottish champions will welcome Spanish champions Real Madrid to their home ground to kick off their return to Champions League play. After coming in second to Rangers two seasons ago, Celtic couldn’t make it out of the Champions League qualifying rounds missing the group stage of last year’s competition, but one of the most storied clubs in the world is back and ready to go. You can catch all the action live on Paramount+.
Following a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Rangers in the Old Firm on Saturday, Celtic will welcome more formidable opposition to Celtic Park in Real Madrid. The Bhoys have enjoyed an unbeaten start to the Scottish season scoring 25 goals in six matches while only allowing one across those matches. While Celtic are clearly the best team in Scotland right now, the numbers are impressive no matter the team, which is why Champions League play will provide a proper test on where they are.
Real Madrid will head into a chaotic environment without Casemiro’s steadying presence after his sale to Manchester United, which will be a test for Aurelien Tchouameni at the center of the park. Only 22 years old, Tchouameni has quickly taken to life at Real Madrid after joining from Monaco during the summer, but Celtic will likely target him when he gets the ball.
But even if Tchouameni can be taken out of the game, Los Blancos have so many ways to hurt a team so they’ll need an off day to lose this. If Joe Hart can stop Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema, then there’s Luka Modric and Toni Kroos to deal with. Contain them? Rodrygo and Fede Valverde are still there while you also need to account for David Alaba on free kicks.
Here’s our storylines, how you can watch the match and more:
Celtic: After an early withdrawal from the Old Firm, Kyogo Furuhashi has returned to training which is music to manager Ange Postecoglou’s ears. Celtic’s joint top scorer with six goals, Furuhashi will be critical to if they can score past Real Madrid on the counter. Liel Abada also has six goals so far, but the next most important performers will be Cameron Carter-Vickers and Joe Hart. Carter-Vickers will be tasked with one of the toughest challenges of his career in tangling with Benzema while Hart’s Champions League experience will be important both in net and keeping the team aware of the challenge around them.
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Real Madrid: Carlo Ancelotti has no injury concerns heading into the match so the biggest question will be does he rotate at all heading into the match. While Los Blancos have a two point lead atop La Liga, Barcelona and Villarreal are hot on their tails so the match during the weekend against Mallorca is also an important one for Real Madrid. With considerable depth in midfield and defense, Ancelotti has a lot of different options while also ensuring that his team does a professional job facing Celtic.
Celtic will put in a valiant effort but there’s no stopping a Benzema in full flow as he picks up where he left off by dominating Champions League while Real Madrid kick off their title defense in style. Pick: Celtic 1, Real Madrid 3
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