Celtic’s attitude is key insists Rodgers
Neymar and his Paris St-Germain team-mates look confident ahead of the Champions League clash with Celtic at Parkhead (pic: SNS Group)
The Champions League anthem will once again reverberate around Celtic Park tonight as Brendan Rodgers’ side welcomes the superstars of Paris St-Germain to the east end of Glasgow.
It’s a tune the former Liverpool manager has been used to hearing at Parkhead since taking over last summer but the Celts will have to be pitch perfect to stand a chance of staying in Europe beyond Christmas this time round.
The Northern Irishman guided the Hoops to the group stages in his first season in charge and was rewarded by being drawn with Barcelona, Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach.
Celtic finished bottom of the table with three points, in the process missing out on qualification for the second-tier competition, the Europa League.
More mouth-watering opposition awaits them this year after a successful journey through the qualifying process, with German giants Bayern Munich and Belgian aces Anderlecht making up Group B.
All eyes will be on former Barca star Neymar, the world’s most expensive footballer, who moved to the French capital from the Nou Camp in a controversial £198 million deal this summer.
But Rodgers will be aware that the visitors’ squad exudes quality in addition to the Brazilian, with the likes of Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappe, Dani Alves, Angel Di Maria and Thiago Motta all gunning for European glory this year.
PSG’s squad is valued in excess of £500 million but as the Celtic boss stressed, reputations should count for nothing once the first whistle goes.
“It should be a great spectacle,” said Rodgers.
“In these types of games attitude is everything. If you stand off top-class players they will show you why they are top class. We just aim to play our game, based around being aggressive defensively and having a physical edge.
“Our style will always be the same, in the aggression in which we defend and attack, but where the players are very comfortable now is playing in and out of different systems.
“I am also looking forward to seeing us play on the counter attack as well because this is a level where you have to stay calm. A positive start is what we want.
“They are put together to win this competition. There is no question about that, with the quality they have and what they have been building over the last few years and over the summer, bringing in Neymar and Mbappe, who is an amazing young striker. So their focus is clearly on winning it.
“When you have that talent working hard it’s very difficult, but you always have to look to find ways. We go into the game with that mentality.
“It’s a challenge we are ready to embrace now and with a full stadium and the first game in the competition it should be a magnificent evening.”
Leigh Griffiths should be fit, despite missing the league win over Hamilton after being injured on Scotland duty. The tie, however, comes too soon for fellow-front man Moussa Dembele, Dedryck Boyata and Erik Sviatchenko.
The Glasgow side were handed a pre-match boost with both captain Scott Brown and defender Jozo Simunovic signing new contracts.
Brown, 32, looks set to finish his career at Parkhead with his new deal keeping him at the club until 2019, while 23-year-old Simunovic has pledged himself to Celtic until 2021.