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In what's been described as a battle for a place in the Europa League, with Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich fighting it out for top spot, Anderlecht play host to Celtic on Wednesday evening.
A trip to Belgium to face champions Anderlecht isn't quite as daunting as it might have been 12 months ago, and this gives Brendan Rodgers' men the ideal opportunity to put three points on the board ahead of their next Champions League match against Bayern.
The Bhoys go into the match fresh off a confident win in the Glasgow derby, while Anderlecht are coming off the back of a fortunate 2-1 win over Waasland-Beveren.
“Anderlecht's game really hurt the eyes”. These were the words in Het Laatste on Sunday morning, one of Belgium's most popular newspapers.
Their title defence, unlike Celtic's, isn't going to plan. Whereas Rodgers' team sit atop the Scottish Premiership, two points clear and with a plus-15 goal difference, Anderlecht find themselves in eighth position after seven matches, a whopping nine points off of top spot and with a goal difference of zero.
A lot has changed since their 3-2 aggregate defeat to Manchester United in the Europa League quarter-final last season.
The Belgians sacked René Weiler on September 18 after a disappointing start to the season saw them win just two of their opening seven league matches.
A statement on Anderlecht's official website thanked Weiler – the man who led the club to their 34th league title last season – “for his commitment, his services and his professionalism”.
Youri Tielemans, a key figure in midfield during the 2016/17 campaign, moved on to Monaco in the summer. They signed two players from Premier League clubs on loan, but neither have settled as the club had hoped. Henry Onyekuru, a one-time Celtic transfer target, arrived from Everton and has scored three goals, but has failed to really impress in what's been an underperforming team.
Matz Sels, a Newcastle United goalkeeper, is the highest earning player in Belgium but was benched recently in favour of 30-year-old Frank Boeckx. Uncertainty remains over who their starting goalkeeper is.
That's just off the pitch. On it, there are weaknesses for Celtic to exploit.
How Celtic can beat Anderlecht
As shown in the comfortable victory over Rangers, if Celtic come up against a team who aren't organised when pressing they have the quality to just play through it and create openings. There were countless examples of the home side being caught on their heels in the derby and Rodgers' team just effortlessly playing it past them and advancing into the final third.
The same could happen against Anderlecht.
The Belgians do try to press high and win the ball back in dangerous areas but aren't synchronised. You see it in the series of pictures below.
Anderlecht, in grey and purple, are defending and look to close down a bouncing ball in their half. The man who picks up the ball turns to face his own goal and plays it backwards. This invites the pressure from the away side and the spaces begin to emerge.
This is evident in the picture above. The man on the ball isn't rushed into a pass and can instead play it however he wants to the man who initially passed him the ball. He's in acres of space and there's no second phase of the press from Anderlecht. One pass takes two players out of the game.
He's able to turn on the ball so he's facing the Anderlecht goal and pick out the pass he wants to play before the away side even get close to him.
The player latches on to the floated ball and fires it back across the face of goal and the home side manage to equalise. It's a well worked goal but Anderlecht don't half make it easy for them.
They have ample men back behind the ball, as shown in the second screenshot, but don't get close to closing the opposition down and look stretched in the final screenshot.
Patrick Roberts can shine again
Roberts was rightly awarded the man of the match award for his performance against Rangers. He finished the game with two assists but could, on another day, have had four. He tormented Lee Hodson at left-back and looked dangerous when cutting inside. He wasn't one-dimensional, though, and went on the outside on a number of occasions.
Roberts could he a handy weapon for Rodgers against Anderlecht who have struggled defending the wide areas at times this season.
The first picture here is just to provide context for what follows. It shows that Sint-Truiden don't play a big switch and Anderlecht aren't caught in transition and stretched. The ball is simply worked from the home side's right to their left.
The left-back is isolated with the man in possession, and there's a lot of space to defend due to the fact the defence hasn't moved over to help and the midfielders have held their position with the men their closest to.
The full-back stands off of the man on the ball knowing if he gets too close he can be beaten for pace, and there's a lot of space for him to drive into in the penalty area.
However, because he stands off of him, he's able to cut inside and put in an swinging cross which is nodded home. It's the sort of move Roberts does on a regular basis, but instead of whipping it into the area, he would be looking to play passes to runners from midfield who would no doubt be looking to exploit the space behind the full-back.
The group is by no means a forgone conclusion, and acting like it is is disrespectful. Celtic can still quality for the latter stages of the competition, however, they need to pick up all three points in Belgium. They have a superb chance of doing just that if they continue on from Saturday.
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