Former Celt Charlie Nicholas has claimed that the Parkhead side were ‘fortunate’ to beat Lazio 2-1 last time the two sides met in Glasgow in his predictions column for Sky Sports.
Nicholas was giving his Europa League predictions as part of his role as a Sky Sports pundit ahead of this week’s round of group fixtures.
When asked how he felt his old side would fare against the Italian giants in Rome, Nicholas said:
“I’m feeling a bit awkward about this one. Celtic did brilliantly to beat them with a last-gasp winner first time around. I did flag up a 2-1 win, but they were fortunate. Celtic needed to take a good scalp eventually.
“In this one, do they attack, counter-attack or sit in? They are not a team that naturally sit in.
“Domestically, they have 70 per cent of the ball. Celtic are getting better at it and Neil Lennon is asking them to play the ball forward much quicker.
“Lazio will be angry and agitated as they should have gone two or three up at Celtic Park. The Serie A side must win here to stay in the group. Cluj will win I think so it may come down to head-to-head with these two sides. Lazio went fourth in Serie A and will get their revenge in this one.”
Nicholas offers his usual level of analysis by having no idea how Celtic will approach the game even though the more direct play he describes that has been adopted on Lennon’s return should suit them being away from home.
He predicts a Lazio win based on them being ‘angry and agitated’, though both teams know that this result could define their chances of progression and will be looking for a positive result. Whether or not Lazio will play a full-strength team remains to be seen though, after resting a few players for the game in Glasgow.
It will be a tough game and Lazio have home advantage but if reports are true, Celtic will actually have more fans inside the ground, negating this immediately.
Nicholas hasn’t considered all the variables but has just gone for Lazio based on them losing the first leg and because he’d expect a Serie A side to beat a Scottish one. The reality is, if Lazio rest players again and with Hoops fans in full voice, Celtic could spring a surprise once more.
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