Thursday 16 August 2018

Celtic ready to exploit Rosenborg on counter-attack

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Photo: Ian Rutherford/PA
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Photo: Ian Rutherford/PA

Nigel Whittaker

Brendan Rodgers believes Celtic will be ready to exploit any Rosenborg risk-taking in the second leg of their Champions League qualifier in Trondheim tonight.

The Scottish champions are 3-1 up from the first leg at Parkhead last week as they bid to clinch a tie against AEK Athens in the next round.

Looking to the task ahead, Rosenborg's interim manager Rini Coolen acknowledged that his side "have to take some risks and yes we have to give away some spaces".

Speaking at the team hotel in Norway, Rodgers was asked if that attitude could play into the hands of his side.

He said: "We will be hopeful if the game opens up that we have the quality and speed in the team to hopefully exploit that.

"It is a game that Rosenborg will want to attack and obviously playing at home in front of their own supporters, they will have to do that.

"But like we have shown, our ability in the counter attack and exploiting spaces."

Celtic will have to play four qualifiers this season to get into the group stages for the third successive year and the former Swansea City and Liverpool boss noted the changing face of European football.

History

"Rosenborg are a fantastic club with great history over many years," said Rodgers, whose side beat the Norwegian champions 1-0 on aggregate in the penultimate qualifier last season.

"This game probably 10 or 20 years ago would have been a group stage Champions League game.

"It shows you the evolution of the Champions League that it is a qualification game. The game is changing all the time, the money that is coming into it.

"We played really well when we were here last season and, while that doesn't count for anything, we come with an advantage and feel we can progress," added Rodgers.

While waiting patiently for new faces to come into the club, Rodgers is hoping to extend the contracts of defender Dedryck Boyata, back from World Cup duties with Belgium although he will not feature against Rosenborg and James Forrest, both of whom are in the final year of their contracts.

He said: "It is great to have Dedryck back. He had an excellent World Cup and gained valuable experience. He looks fit and strong but of course needs a bit of time.

"The talks have been on-going. I have had a long chat with Dedryck and he is in a good place.

"We want to keep him for as long as we can. Whether he decides he wants to move on after this season, that will be up to him and his representative.

"My priority is getting him fit and back into the team again because he is a top class player.

"In terms of James, he is coming into his final year and he is clearly a player we would love to keep.

"So I am sure the club will be working with James' representatives to tie him down to a longer deal also."

While Celtic are favourites to advance, they will take nothing for granted and Rosenborg do not have to look too far back for reasons to be hopeful.

After the Norwegian side were knocked out of the penultimate Champions League qualifier last season by Celtic, they were paired with Ajax in their Europa League play-off and beat the previous season's finalists 1-0 in Amsterdam and 3-2 in Trondheim.

Irish Independent

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