Speaking in his pre-match press conference (via BBC Sport), Ange Postecoglou revealed that, after being brought off in the second half of the 4-0 demolition of Rangers on Saturday afternoon with a knee injury, Carl Starfelt will not be available for selection for the visit of the reigning European champions tonight.
Regarding the centre-back’s current condition, the 57-year-old Hoops manager said: “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.”
Considering just how important a part of the Celtic backline Starfelt has become since his £4.3m move to Parkhead last summer, the fact that the defender is now unavailable to take part against Real Madrid is sure to have come as a gutting blow to Postecoglou.
Indeed, over his 34 Premiership appearances last season, the £5.4m-rated centre-back was imperious in the heart of the Bhoys’ defence, helping his side to keep 18 clean sheets, along with making 1.3 interceptions, 1.2 tackles and 3.6 clearances and winning 6.3 duels (at a success rate of 61%) per game.
These returns saw the £15.5k-per-week Sweden international average an impressive SofaScore match rating of 7.20, not only ranking him as Postecoglou’s ninth-best performer in the league but also as the 12th-best player in the Scottish top flight as a whole.
The defender has also been in eye-catching form over his three league outings so far this term, averaging a SofaScore match rating of 7.40 which ranks him as the Hoops’ sixth-best performer in the Premiership in the 2022/23 campaign.
As such, with Celtic set to face an intimidating front three of Federico Valverde, Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior tonight, it is clear that the absence of one of the club’s most reliable centre-backs is sure to have come as a huge blow to Postecoglou and his side, as the Bhoys’ will need to be as close to perfect as possible if they are to take anything from the clash at Parkhead.