It’s the last chance for the home players to impress new boss Simon Grayson, while their guests are seeking to get back in the groove
Sunderland and Celtic meet in a friendly on Saturday to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Stadium of Light.
Neither side goes into this match exactly how they would wish, with the hosts facing at least one year in the Championship following their relegation from the Premier League and their opponents vexed by a poor midweek showing against Rosenborg which means their priorities lie elsewhere.
Nevertheless, for both sides, this represents a last opportunity for the respective managers to assess their squads prior to the beginning of their league campaigns.
|Game||Sunderland vs Celtic|
|Date||Saturday, July 29|
TV CHANNEL & LIVE STREAM
In the UK, the match will not be available to watch. However, Celtic TV will stream the encounter.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
SQUADS & TEAM NEWS
Celtic will be wary of their Champions League third-round second-leg encounter against Rosenborg, which follows hot on the heels of this game and will certainly be their priority. Leigh Griffiths is a doubt for that encounter and cannot expect to be risked, much like centre-back Erik Sviatchenko. Additionally, Moussa Dembele is certainly out.
Brendan Rodgers is liable to restrict the game time of all of his players for this encounter.
The hosts, meanwhile, are set to go with a stronger squad. Celtic youth product Aiden McGeady is set for his first run out at the Stadium of Light after debuting in the disappointing scoreless draw against Scunthorpe earlier this week, but Jeremain Lens is unlikely to feature due to injury and a potential transfer to Besiktas.
Josh Maja is also something of a doubt after missing the midweek encounter.
BETTING & MATCH ODDS
Sunderland are priced at 15/4 to win, according to dabblebet , with Celtic slated at 4/7 and the draw available at 3/1.
Sunderland round off their pre-season campaign with a fixture against undoubtedly their toughest opponents to date.
Simon Grayson’s side have endured only one defeat in their seven matches to date, which was a 3-0 reverse against Scottish Premiership side St Johnstone in the midst of their brief tour of the country. Previously, they had frittered away a two-goal lead to draw with Hibs but then defeated Championship outfit Livingston 3-0.
Celtic, however, represent a step up in class from any of the opponents they have otherwise faced this summer, and should give them a better idea of where they are at a week before their campaign to bounce back into the Premier League begins.
The Scottish champions could probably have done without this match, which arrives four days before their vital Champions League third qualifying round second-leg fixture away to Rosenborg.
Brendan Rodgers’ side were uninspired at Celtic Park last Wednesday as they were held to a scoreless draw against the champions of Norway and will have to substantially improve if they are to progress in the competition that they see as a measuring stick for their performances.
It does, however, give the manager the opportunity to experiment with the options he has at his disposal in attack, where his side looked lost without both Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths. Indeed, some of the younger members of his squad may see this encounter as the perfect opportunity to force themselves into the Northern Irishman’s thinking ahead of the trip to Trondheim.