Celtic kick start their Europa League group campaign on Thursday, with a tough trip to France to face Rennes.
The Hoops are in Europe’s second tier competition for the second consecutive year after failing to qualify for the Champions League following defeat from CFR Cluj, who along with Lazio, complete Group E.
However, Neil Lennon’s men comprehensively put aside Swedish outfit AIK to secure European football till Christmas.
Thursday’s opponent, Rennes, defeated PSG on penalties in the French Cup final last season to earn direct qualification to the competition.
Like Celtic, the French side reached the knockout phase of last year’s campaign, but managed to go one better than the Hoops by reaching the round of 16.
Both clubs have started their season strongly, with the hosts second in Ligue 1 with three wins, including an impressive victory over Paris Saint-Germain meanwhile, Celtic have maximum points in the league with five wins from five.
A positive for the Hoops is that star striker M’Baye Niang is a doubt for the match after picking up a knee injury, with his availability not being confirmed until the last minute.
The home side have talent all over the park and Thursday’s contest will be a difficult one for Neil Lennon’s men, who will need to put in one of their best performances under the Northern Irishman in order to get a positive result.
We take a look at where those key battles could take place.
Clement Grenier vs Scott Brown
The 28-year-old Frenchman has already been highlighted as Rennes dangerman and Scott Brown will be more than aware of the danger he poses.
The talisman is known for his silky movement, dribbling and technical ability, as well as his free kick taking.
However he struggles in games where his opponent is on top of him and can’t create space for himself – step in Scott Brown.
Brown himself aims to dictate and control the midfield so he will be looking to get the better of the French side’s main man.
Eduardo Camavinga vs Callum McGregor
The 16-year-old has lit up the French Cup winners since breaking into the side and was awarded Ligue 1’s Player of the Month accolade for August as recognition of his efforts.
AC Milan, Spurs and Arsenal all have their eyes on him with his strength and dominance even at such a young age, catching the eye of Europe’s elite.
Unlike Grenier, he prefers to sit back and take on defensive duties and will be keen to catch out Callum McGregor.
He’s yet to quite hit the heights everyone knows he can and for that reason, Ntcham may start but it seems Lennon will want to send out his strongest side and that includes McGregor.
It will be a crucial and interesting battle nonetheless, one of huge importance.
Hamari Traore vs Boli Bolingoli
The right-back already has two assists this season, with his blistering pace and deadly right foot making for a perfect combination.
Bolingoli has improved with every outing, his defensive abilities now match his attacking threats but he will be in for a long night if Traore gets the beating of him.
It’ll be crucial for Celtic to isolate Rennes’ width, starting with Traore.
Odsonne Edouard vs Jeremy Gelin
The Frenchan is returning home and will be looking to show what he’s got. Although Edouard has little to prove, he’ll be desperate to get on the scoresheet.
Rennes have started the season by playing with five at the back and at the heart of that has been 22-year-old Gelin.
He’ll need to put in one of his best performances to date to handle his fellow countryman, who has been in excellent form for club of late.
James Forrest vs Faitout Maouassa
Celtic have looked to and depended on Forrest hugely in recent times and Thursday appears to be no different.
Lennon had Forrest in his starting XI when the two last met in the Europa League all those years ago and his experience will be crucial.
Maouassa is only 21 and will need to remember his defensive duties as well as going forward in order to contain Forrest.
He covers for the experienced although ageing, 36-year-old Morel, who sits back instead of offering much going forward.
He has little pace so will rely on the youngster to track back and match Forrest on the break.
Mohamed Elyounoussi vs Damien Da Silva
He had a great debut against Hamilton at the weekend and will be looking to capitalise on that performance.
Elyounoussi showed his quality and energy on Saturday, something Celtic have lacked away in Europe in recent years.
Da Silva was subbed off as a precaution at the weekend as he was sitting on a booking and will need to be wary of Celtic’s loan boy.