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Rodgers urges Celtic to have belief against City

SoccerNews in Scottish Premier League 27 Sep 2016

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Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers hopes his players have learnt the lessons of their brutal 7-0 defeat to Barcelona when they host Manchester City in the Champions League.

The Scottish champions’ dream return to Europe’s top competition after a three-year absence quickly became a nightmare as Lionel Messi and company made merry in the Group C opener.

Their task will be helped by a vociferous 60,000-strong crowd at Parkhead on Wednesday but they face a City side in a rich vein of form, with Pep Guardiola having won all 10 of his competitive games at the helm.

“We won’t be as passive as we were in the last game. Apart from that we have been really aggressive in our game,” Rodgers told a pre-match news conference.

“It has been three years since the club was in the Champions League playing that level of opponent.

“You have to take on board they were playing against a team of that level and when we made that start we made it was difficult.

“The most important thing was to learn from it. Once you’re in the Champions League consistently that gives you the belief.

“We have respect for [City’s] game but have to ensure we’re committed. We look forward to it and it should be a good night.

“We have to try and find a way to get the result and I know the players want that.”

Craig Gordon will start in goal for Celtic, with Dorus de Vries still not 100 per cent fit after suffering a chest injury against Kilmarnock on Saturday, while the hosts could feature ex-City defender Kolo Toure and Etihad Stadium loanee Patrick Roberts.

Rodgers boasts three wins over City from his spells in charge of Swansea City and Liverpool in the Premier League, never losing a home match, but he feels the English club have moved up a level since the appointment of former Barca and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola.

“They are a team at the top of their game,” he said. “I have watched and worked against Manchester City over past seasons.

“The level of their play has gone up since Pep has come in; the level and intensity of their game has gone up.”

One player revelling under Guardiola’s management is England winger Raheem Sterling, who left Rodgers’ Liverpool to join City in 2015 and has four goals to his name this season.

“I’ve been so proud to watch him,” Rodgers added. “He’s a great boy to work with and it’s been great to see him grow from 17 years old as a player and as a person.

“He’s really shown that with focus, he’s a top-class player. He was brilliant for me. I’m looking forward to seeing him, but hopefully he doesn’t play that well.”

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