After suffering defeat against Real Betis in their opening Europa League game earlier this month, Celtic will be seeking their first three points in Group G when they host Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday night.
This will be the first ever meeting between the two sides in a major European competition, with the visitors being the 10th different German club that the Hoops will have encountered.
Celtic suffered another setback in the Scottish Premiership when they were held to a 1-1 draw at home against Dundee United last weekend.
Liel Abada's 16th-minute header to open the scoring was cancelled out just two minutes later by an equally-impressive header from Ian Harkes. Hoops trio David Turnbull, Tom Rogic and Jota all hit the Tangerines' crossbar, while Albian Ajeti somehow blazed over a glorious opportunity from just a few yards out, meaning the hosts had to settle for just a point.
Celtic's inconsistent start to the new campaign, winning and losing three league games each, sees them positioned in sixth place, six points behind league leaders and reigning champions Rangers.
As underwhelming as they have been so far this term, the Bhoys' form on home soil has at least been a positive, winning seven and drawing two of their nine matches at Parkhead. However, they head into Thursday's clash against Bayer Leverkusen after losing 10 of their last 17 European matches at home.
Celtic also have a poor record against German opposition, winning just four of their 24 games against them. All four, however, were at Parkhead including their most recent win against RB Leipzig during the 2018-19 Europa League group stage.
Leverkusen are arguably the strongest side in Group G, so Celtic could be in for a difficult night, but after losing their opening group game to Real Betis earlier this month – suffering a 4-3 defeat in Seville – the Hoops cannot afford to drop too many more points if they wish to advance into the knockout rounds.
Bayer Leverkusen extended their winning run across all competitions to three matches, when they secured a slender 1-0 victory at home against Mainz in the Bundesliga last weekend.
Teenage sensation Florian Wirtz, who has been linked with a move away from the BayArena, scored the only goal of the game midway through the second half, increasing his personal goal tally for this season to five in six appearances.
Gerardo Seoane's side have climbed up to second in the Bundesliga standings, just three points behind league leaders and reigning champions Bayern Munich, who they are to face in just over two weeks' time.
Bayer Leverkusen travel to Scotland with three points already on the board in Group G, after beating Ferencvaros 2-1 earlier this month.
Die Werkself have won five of their last seven European away matches, though they did suffer defeat in their last Europa League game on the road, losing 4-3 against Young Boys in the round of 32 last season.
The last time Bayer Leverkusen faced a Scottish opponent was in March 2020 in the last 16 of the Europa League, beating Celtic's rivals Rangers 3-1 at Ibrox. Another triumph in Glasgow on Thursday could see the German outfit take control of Group G, if Real Betis were to drop points against Ferencvaros.
Celtic are currently without eight first-team players due to injury and they are all set to remain out until the middle of next month.
Kyogo Furuhashi, Karamoko Dembele and Christopher Jullien are ruled out with knee injuries, while Callum McGregor (hamstring), Georgios Giakoumakis (calf), Greg Taylor (shoulder) and James Forrest (knock) are also unavailable for selection.
With Postecoglou short of attacking options, Abada, Jota and Ajeti are all expected to start once again, with the latter looking to score his second goal in this year's competition after finding the net against Real Betis.
As for Bayer Leverkusen, they also have several injury concerns of their own, with Timothy Fosu-Mensah (knee), Julian Baumgartlinger (knee), Edmond Tapsoba (ankle), Exequiel Palacios (ankle) and Niklas Lomb (finger) all ruled out of Thursday's game.
Celtic possible starting lineup:
Hart; Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Juranovic; Rogic, McCarthy, Turnbull; Abada, Ajeti, Jota
Bayer Leverkusen possible starting lineup:
Hradecky; Frimpong, Kossounou, Tah, Bakker; Demirbay, Andrich; Bellarabi, Wirtz, Diaby; Schick
We say: Celtic 1-3 Bayer Leverkusen
Thursday's encounter with Leverkusen is set to be Celtic's toughest test in Group G and although their home for this campaign has been strong, we feel that they may find it difficult to cope with the German side's forward line.
Neither team will be at full strength due to several injuries, however we can see the visitors coming away with all three points at Parkhead.
body check tags ::