Monday 20 August 2018

Rodgers steels Celtic to repel Heynckes' Bayern bounce

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Photo: AFP/Getty
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Photo: AFP/Getty

Jamie Holland

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is wary of the Bayern bounce ahead of their Champions League encounter at the Allianz Arena tonight.

The German giants fired Carlo Ancelotti following their 3-0 Group B loss to Paris Saint-Germain last month, with Jupp Heynckes returning to take charge for the fourth time.

In his first game back Bayern beat Freiburg 5-0 in the Bundesliga and that did not go unnoticed by Rodgers.

The former Swansea and Liverpool manager, who must plan without centre-back Jozo Simunovic but welcomes back Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong, said: "They have obviously changed management and that has given them a little bit of a bounce effect.

"You always look at players and how hard they work and how they press and certainly in last weekend's game Bayern Munich's counter-press went to a different level.

"We need to be resilient but we know that we can come away from home, play football and score goals and that is our intention."

Rodgers bemoaned the loss of Simunovic, but he welcomed the return of Brown and Armstrong.

Boost

"It is a huge boost to have Scott and Stuart available. Scott has real leadership qualities and is a big-game player so he will impose his way of playing and that is always a big inspiration for the team."

Heynckes, meanwhile, has told his players to expect a tough match. "FC Bayern have great ambitions, but you cannot make the mistake of underestimating Celtic," he said.

"They have a very good coach, they're powerful and aggressive. They're a very competitive team, so we need to be prepared."

Heynckes was controversially dumped by the Bavarian giants back in 2013 despite leading them to Champions League glory against rivals Borussia Dortmund at Wembley.

Pep Guardiola was hired to make that kind of triumph a regular occurrence but when it proved a feat too far for both the Spaniard and then Ancelotti, Bayern once again turned to Heynckes in the hope that he can restore unity to their dispirited squad.

Last Saturday's drubbing of Freiburg was the perfect start and now Heynckes wants to build momentum by downing Celtic.

"It's fun to work with the squad. I see how hard the players are working and it's only a matter of time before we play really good football."

Munich will be without two of their biggest stars, with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and French winger Franck Ribery ruled out with long-term injuries.

Bayern Munich v Celtic

Live , BT Sport Extra 4, 7.45

Irish Independent

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