Celtic v Real Madrid: Kyogo fit as Ange Postecoglou vows to play on front foot

Kyogo Furuhashi
Kyogo Furuhashi has recovered from the shoulder injury that forced him off against Rangers
Venue: Celtic Park, Glasgow Date: Tuesday, 6 September Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland Extra & BBC Radio 5 live, live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app

Striker Kyogo Furuhashi is available to face Real Madrid in Celtic’s Champions League group-stage opener, says manager Ange Postecoglou.

The Japan forward scored six goals in five games before going off after three minutes of Saturday’s 4-0 win over Rangers.

However, centre-back Carl Starfelt will miss the Group F meeting with the defending champions at Celtic Park.

“He trained this morning and looked OK,” Postecoglou said of Kyogo.

“He’s available. I make the decision whether he’ll play or not, but in terms of him training and doing everything in training, he was fine.

“On the weekend, Carl Starfelt hurt his knee. We don’t have an exact diagnosis, but it’s nothing too serious but will probably keep him out for a couple of weeks.”

Celtic have started the domestic season with sevens wins from seven in all competitions, scoring 29 goals and conceding just two.

Postecoglou’s side dismantled rivals Rangers at the weekend but come up against the Champions League winners from last season who have started their La Liga campaign with four wins from four.

Despite the step up, the Celtic boss maintains his side will aim to play on the front foot.

“There’s no point playing football a certain way and then, when you get the opportunity to measure it against the best, you shy away from it,” the Australian said.

“You could go out there tomorrow and limit the damage and might get a win playing a different way, but have you really tested yourself? I don’t think you have.

“We go out there tomorrow night being the football team we have been to this point. Then you’ve got a real measure of where you’re at.

“If we’re short of where we need to be then we go back, dust ourselves off, work at it again and get a bit closer next time.”

What they said

Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley: “We don’t change the way we play regardless of the opposition. We might have to tweak little things in terms of the amount we press because of the quality of the opposition.

“But in general, the way we go about it is going to be the same. We approach Ross County away the same way we do this game. It takes bravery regardless of who you play against.

“There are always going to be scares at times because we take risks quite often. Against this type of opposition we need to be at our very best.”

Team news

Starfelt is the only player missing from the Celtic group who defeated Rangers at the weekend, with Postecoglou having a near fully fit squad from which to choose.

Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti has travelled with the same 22 players who were involved in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Real Betis in La Liga.

That means defenders Jesus Vallejo, the former Wolverhampton Wanderers loanee, and Alvaro Odriozola miss out again as they return from injury.

Match stats

  • The sides have only met once in a competitive game, Madrid winning the 1979-80 European Cup quarter-final 3-2 on aggregate despite losing the first leg 2-0.
  • Celtic have lost eight of their last 10 Champions League matches against Spanish opposition (winning the other two), including each of their last four – all against Barcelona from 2013 to 2016.
  • This will be Real’s first European meeting with a Scottish club since the 1983 Cup Winners’ Cup final, which they lost to Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen 2-1 after extra-time.
  • The defending champions have only been eliminated in the group stage in one of the last 28 seasons, with Chelsea bowing out in 2012-13. Only one of the last 27 title-holders have lost their first match of the following season’s competition (winning 16 of them), with Liverpool beaten 2-0 away to Napoli in 2019-20.
  • Celtic have qualified for the first time since 2017-18, under Brendan Rodgers. They have been eliminated from the group stage in their last three attempts (2013-14, 2016-17, 2017-18), last progressing in 2012-13.
  • Real are competing in their 27th Champions League, a joint-record along with Barcelona, including a 26th consecutive season, the longest ongoing run of any side. They have progressed from all 30 of their group stages.
  • Celtic have never won their first match of a season in the Champions League in 10 previous attempts (losing eight times); only RSC Anderlecht (12) have played in more editions of the tournament without ever winning their opener.
  • Ange Postecoglou will become the first Australian to manage in the Champions League. Overall, he is the fifth manager to take charge of Celtic in the tournament, after Martin O’Neill, Gordon Strachan, Neil Lennon and Brendan Rodgers.
  • This will be Carlo Ancelotti’s 19th season as a Champions League manager; his sides have progressed from the opening group stage in 15 of his last 16 editions, failing only with Napoli in 2018-19.
  • Ancelotti has faced Celtic six times in the competition, all as Milan manager from 2004 to 2007, losing just once and winning three times.
  • Real’s Karim Benzema scored 15 goals in last season’s Champions League; only Cristiano Ronaldo has ever scored more in a single season (17 in 2013-14, 16 in 2015-16). The Frenchman is tied with Robert Lewandowski on 86 goals overall in the competition, joint-third all-time behind Cristiano Ronaldo (140) and Lionel Messi (125).

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