Rodgers: We can beat Barcelona

> ‘Celtic fans right to be­lieve we can win as it’s a mark of where the club is go­ing’ says man­ager

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

BRENDAN RODGERS says it’s a sign of how far Celtic have pro­gressed this sea­son that the club’s sup­port­ers be­lieve they can de­feat Barcelona.

It is a be­lief that would have seemed pre­pos­ter­ous just two months ago when they watched their side trudge off the pitch at the Nou Camp af­ter suf­fer­ing a 7-0 maul­ing at the hands of the Cata­lan gi­ants.

How­ever, pos­i­tiv­ity abounds at Celtic Park thanks in large to an un­de­feated start to their Scot­tish Premier­ship ti­tle de­fence and a place in the League Cup fi­nal, which has given them an air of in­vin­ci­bil­ity do­mes­ti­cally.

Im­prove­ments in Europe have fol­lowed with solid per­for­mances in their sur­prise 3-3 draw with Manch­ester City and a 1-1 draw away to Borus­sia Monchenglad­bach, al­though th­ese re­sults sand­wiched a dis­ap­point­ing 2-0 home de­feat to the Ger­mans.

Celtic’s Cham­pi­ons League am­bi­tions are all but gone with the Park­head club sit­ting bot­tom of Group C with two points from their four matches.

How­ever, they re­tain hopes of clinch­ing third spot and a place in the Europa League which would guar­an­tee Euro­pean foot­ball be­yond Christmas.

To achieve this they will need a re­peat of Barcelona’s visit to Park­head in Oc­to­ber 2012 when the Glas­gow gi­ants se­cured a shock 2-1 win over the Span­ish cham­pi­ons.

And for­mer Liver­pool boss Rodgers says his side will need to show their teeth if they are to have a chance of em­u­lat­ing that re­mark­able re­sult.

“Barca have ex­pe­ri­enced it be­fore, they know it’s tough,” the Celtic boss said.

“But hope­fully what we have cre­ated here in a short pe­riod of time is that we are a team that’s not go­ing to wait for op­po­nents.

“We have to be ag­gres­sive. We know they are some of the top play­ers ever, but we have to get up to them and see how they cope when you are right at them.

“It is great that we feel that we can win. It’s a mark of where the club’s go­ing.”

De­spite the thump­ing suf­fer­ing by his side in Spain, Celtic for­ward Scott Sin­clair says the Hoops won’t fear Barcelona.

“There’s no ap­pre­hen­sion. We’ve learned a lot from that game,” the for­mer Manch­ester City player said.

“Even when we went away to Monchenglad­bach we showed the dif­fer­ence when we con­ceded. We lost the game at home but we went there and drew.

“I think we’ve learned a lot and hope­fully now we’re go­ing in with a pos­i­tive mind­set.”

How­ever, the Hoops will face a Barcelona side who also have a point to prove. Luis En­rique’s side, the tour­na­ment favourites for many, ar­rive in Glas­gow on the back of a goal­less draw against mid-ta­ble Malaga – the first time they have failed to score at the Nou Camp since Fe­bru­ary 2015.

The Cata­lan gi­ants have dropped points in four of their 12 matches in La Liga this sea­son to record their worst start to a cam­paign since 2004.

De­spite this, Barca re­main in sec­ond place just four points off old ri­vals Real Madrid and top Group C with nine points from their four matches.

Celtic will also be fac­ing a full­strength Barca, who rested sev­eral play­ers for the match against Malaga and were with­out the sus­pended Luis Suarez and Leo Messi due to ill­ness.

In all the matches that Barcelona have dropped points this sea­son Messi has not fea­tured or lasted the full 90 min­utes.

En­rique would have been bol­stered by his re­turn to train­ing on Mon­day and the Ar­gen­tine mae­stro is ex­pected to take his place in Barca’s for­mi­da­ble for­ward line along­side Suarez and Ney­mar.

An­dres Ini­esta and Sa­muel Umtiti re­main the only ab­sen­tees for the trip to Glas­gow through in­jury. – AFP

The Dort­mund de­feat al­lowed RB Leipzig to fin­ish the week­end top of the league – the first time since Septem­ber 2015 that Bay­ern have not been top in Ger­many.

Bay­ern failed to con­vert any of their 18 shots on goal and for­ward Thomas Muller is still wait­ing for his first league goal of the sea­son.

“Ob­vi­ously you can’t be happy when you lose top spot and drop points,” said cap­tain Philipp Lahm.

“Now it’s back to the Cham­pi­ons League and af­ter that we face Lev­erkusen (at home on Satur­day). There are in­ter­est­ing weeks ahead.”

When Xabi Alonso hit the cross­bar with an hour gone and his side 1-0 down in Dort­mund, it was the 10th time Mu­nich have hit the wood­work in the league this sea­son.

Their strike rate is bet­ter in the Cham­pi­ons League, where Robert Le­wandowski has four goals in as many games, while Muller has net­ted twice in Europe.

Bay­ern routed Ros­tov 5-0 in mid-Septem­ber but they have taken flak in the Ger­man me­dia for the Dort­mund de­feat.

Ex-Ger­many cap­tain Lothar Matthaeus says Bay­ern are miss­ing the “fit­ness, joy and au­thor­ity” in their play. – AFP

Barcelona striker Luiz Suarez (left) meets up with his ex-Liver­pool and present Celtic man­ager Brendan Rodgers af­ter the fifi rst leg group match.

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