Saturday 3 December 2016

Luis Suarez is the best striker in the world - Brendan Rodgers

Ronnie Esplin

Published 12/09/2016 | 20:48

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers during the press conference
Reuters / Albert Gea
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers during the press conference Reuters / Albert Gea

Brendan Rodgers believes Celtic could park two buses at the Nou Camp on Tuesday night and still not stop Barcelona star Luis Suarez.

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The 29-year-old Uruguay striker worked under Rodgers at Liverpool and will team up with Lionel Messi and Neymar against the Hoops.

Rodgers paid tribute to the talented trio but insists Suarez is the best player in the world and despite the best efforts of the Scottish champions in their Champions League Group C opener, may still be unstoppable.

He said: "First of all, when you speak about Luis Suarez you have to speak about the man.

"Luis Suarez is one of the most beautiful men you could come across.

"Very humble guy, who works tirelessly at his profession. He is super-professional, a family man who gives everything for his life as a footballer and his family.

"I had the pleasure of working with him for two years and he was incredible and as a footballer, he is the best in the world.

"The biggest compliment you can give Luis is that he came to an already world-class team and he made them even better.

"And when I see them play now, Barcelona would not be the same team without Luis Suarez.

"Like all world class players, they always find a space.

"You can have tactical ideas, you can park two double decker buses in front of the goal.

"I think that sometimes the best players in the world will always find a space.

"You have to try and do as much as you can to negate that and be as aggressive as you can in order to stop them and that is something we hope we will do but he is the best striker in the world at this moment in time.

"I don't think there is any question in that.

"We respect this is arguably the best team in the world with probably a front three that is maybe the best of all time.

"I know working with Luis that Luis on his own could occupy a back four defence.

"So if you add Neymar and Messi into that then of course it is a very difficult task.

"So we respect that this will be a very difficult game.

"As a manager you have to believe you can get a positive result."

Despite respecting Suarez and his team-mates, Rodgers played down any notion that the match against Barcelona was a "free game" for the Hoops, who travel with confidence and with the gratitude of their fans after a 5-1 thrashing of Old Firm rival Rangers on Saturday.

He said: "For me it's not. We are here to look to get a result.

"We understand and respect the difficulties there is to get a result here, coming off the back of the intensity of the programme we have been on and the Rangers game at the weekend and everything that we put into it to get the result.

"We want to come and enjoy it but we want to come and get a result.

"We are not here just to be passengers.

"If you want that easy-osy life, it is not the level to be playing at.

"If you want to be successful, there has to be a little bit of pressure and if you are a top player and want to be a top player you have to put yourself under that pressure to perform.

"Like I say it is a real pleasure to come here but make no mistake about it, we are here to try to get a result and we will do everything we can against a real crack team."

Neither Suarez nor Messi started at home to Alaves on Saturday and although they came off the bench they were unable to prevent a shock 2-1 defeat for Barca.

However, Rodgers will not read too much into the result.

He said: "My past of working with top class players is that they put themselves under pressure in every game they play.

"If they win or lose against Alaves this is still a big game for Barcelona.

"The danger is still the same.

"But we won't be fearful, that's for sure."

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