Celtic will be inspired by Euro pressure: Brendan Rodgers
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is relishing the pressure of what he believes is a must-win Europa League clash with RB Leipzig at Parkhead tonight.
The Scottish champions are third in Group B with three points from three fixtures, including a 2-0 defeat at the Red Bull Arena last month.
Austrian side RB Salzburg top the group with nine points with RB Leipzig on six points and the Hoops boss is looking for his men, who have scored 23 goals in their last five domestic games while conceding just two, to produce their best in their bid to get back into the qualification mix.
He said: “We are certainly in a much better place than we were a number of weeks ago.
“The team is really confident and playing well, scoring goals and defensively strong.
“We know it is a tough game for us but we love playing at Celtic Park and we know that if we are to progress or have any opportunity to progress to the group stages, it is a game that we have to win.
“People will look at it as a pressure game but not every pressure situation is a negative.
“I think, I always seen the pressure moments as opportunities for you to go and show your qualities.
“In the last game (against Leipzig), for the opening half-hour we looked fine in the game and then when we conceded we didn’t play well enough after that both with and without the ball.
“I am looking forward to the game. In a couple of games away from home we probably haven’t shown our true qualities for whatever reasons but the team is on a good level of confidence, we are playing well which is very important.”
Rodgers is as confident as always ahead of playing in front of a packed Celtic Park but stressed the need for his side to cut out the errors which have proved costly on the European stage
The former Liverpool boss said: “It is always a different game at Celtic Park, our supporters are everything for us, they really push us on and help us and of course we know that we have to be at the very highest level to get a result.
“A little problem for us in the last few years is that we have made mistakes at this level and the lesson is you get punished.
“So defensively let’s not make mistakes and make it very difficult for the opposition to score.
“At this level the tempo is quicker and higher and you have to retain the ball better at speed but we have shown all these things at the very highest level that we can do that, it is ensuring we have that consistency and not dent our confidence by making mistakes and hopefully create a platform to get a good result.
“I have every confidence that we can go on and put on a good demonstration of our qualities and our aim is to win.”
Meanwhile, Celtic’s Ryan Christie hopes to sign a new contract with the Parkhead club soon.
The 23-year-old attacker’s current deal is up at the end of the season.
Christie, who had a loan spell with Inverness after joining from the Highland club in 2015 – and then two loan spells at Aberdeen – has begun to make his mark with Rodgers’ side this season and has scored in each of his last three games.
Christie said: “I love being a Celtic player and want to extend my stay here. It is looking positive and hopefully me and the club can come to an agreement quite soon.
“With the contract talks, I had to talk to the manager and he was brilliant and he let me know he saw a future here at Celtic which is all I needed to know.
“With that knowledge I can hopefully kick on.
“It’s up to me to kick on but I feel like I am a part of this squad now and can have a big impact between now and the end of the season.”
Rodgers is also very positive about the prospect of Christie staying with Celtic.
He said: “He’s been brilliant in this spell that he has been able to get into the team.
“Now, he has the confidence to fill the shirt when he plays. He’s been absolutely outstanding.”