The Chalkboard: Callum McGregor holds key to thwarting Dani Parejo

Celtic are set to welcome Valencia to Celtic Park on Thursday evening for the first leg of a hotly-anticipated Europa League clash.

On the chalkboard

Two-legged European ties are where the top managers in the game really come into their own. European competitions consistently provide meticulously tactical fixtures which hinge on the finest of margins, and Brendan Rodgers will be acutely aware of that ahead of Celtic’s biggest game of the season so far.

Valencia have been rocked by a handful of injury concerns ahead of the fixture, with Rodrigo and Santi Mina both sidelined through injury, as per Daily Record, but they still have plenty of talented players for the Bhoys to fear.

One of those players is Dani Parejo: Valencia’s playmaker-in-chief who has been dubbed as their “most important player” by journalist Cayetano Ros, of Spanish daily newspaper Levante, as per Evening Times.

McGregor has ability to silence Dani Parejo

Parejo has scored seven goals and provided three assists in all-competitions this season, offering a killer instinct in the final-third as well as technical prowess.

The 29-year-old midfielder is primarily in the team to dictate the tempo and create opportunities for his teammates, but his impressive return proves there are plenty of strings to his bow.

If Valencia record a positive result on Thursday evening there is no doubt he will be at the heart of it, so Rodgers must ensure that McGregor makes it his personal objective to neutralise his influence on proceedings.

The Scotland international’s energy in the midfield has the potential to suffocate Valencia’s midfield lynchpin if channelled effectively, while his natural instinct to burst forward in support of the attack will drag Parejo away from the positions where he can hurt Celtic.

McGregor has already showcased his insatiable appetite for the the big European nights this season, and he must step up to the plate once again and play Parejo off the park to give the Bhoys every chance of taking a priceless advantage to Spain next week.

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