Celtic face RB Leipzig in the Europa League at Parkhead on Thursday night.
The Hoops sit third in Group B with three points and on the back of a 2-0 defeat in the Red Bull Arena last month.
Here, we look at the talking points ahead of the match.
After the first three Group B fixtures Celtic sit six points behind leaders Salzburg and three behind RB Leipzig and are feeling the heat. The Scottish champions have still to play those two teams at home, with a trip to Trondheim to take on struggling bottom side Rosenborg also on the horizon, so mathematically qualification into the knockout stages is still possible. However, Rodgers admitted Thursday’s clash is a must-win game for the Hoops if they are to have any chance of progressing and he wants his side to relish the pressure.
Celtic have scored 23 goals in their last five domestic games while conceding only two so confidence in the Parkhead camp is high. Of course, in the midst of that was their 2-0 defeat by RB Leipzig in Germany. However, there is a sense that the Hoops are building up a head of steam after a sticky start to the season and will surely pose a goal threat against the German side.
At his pre-match press conference at the club’s Lennoxtown training facility on Wednesday afternoon, Rodgers stressed the need to keep the back door closed. Celtic have been regularly punished in Europe for mistakes – most recently the two goals in the RB Leipzig defeat were avoidable – and the former Swansea and Liverpool boss urged his players to cut them out to give themselves a better chance.
While Celtic’s away record in Europe is lamentably poor, some of the biggest names in Europe have faltered in the east end of Glasgow including Barcelona, AC Milan and Manchester United. A packed, raucous Celtic Park on a European night under the floodlights might not intimidate the visitors but it can have an inspirational effect on the home side. Can this be another night of glory for those in green and white?
Filip Benkovic and Dedryck Boyata were the preferred centre-back pairing in Saturday’s 5-0 Ladbrokes Premiership win over Hearts at Parkhead, with the former scoring his first Hoops goal with a bullet header from a Callum McGregor corner. Previous mainstay Kristoffer Ajer, recently returned from a hamstring injury, came on as a second-half substitute to remind Rodgers of his abilities. The Northern Irishman has something of defensive dilemma for this crunch Europa League tie, unless of course he opts to play with a back-three.
- Press Association