Brendan Rodgers, the coach of Celtic’s Northern Ireland team, believes that his squad has the potential to enhance their performance in the Champions League over time. Despite their current position at the top of the Scottish Premiership table with an unbeaten streak of 14 matches, Celtic have struggled in the Champions League this season, with only one point and three goals from four matches.
To remain in the competition, Celtic must face a challenging journey to Serie A club Lazio on Tuesday and understand that a victory in Italy is crucial. According to Rodgers, his team requires more time and exposure in order to translate their success in domestic competitions to the European stage.
In his statement, Rodgers expressed that there are two aspects to this development. Firstly, it relies on the players gaining valuable experience at this level. Over the past few years, there have been numerous young players in the squad who have been acquiring such experience. Therefore, the club’s objective is to participate in the Champions League as frequently as possible, as this will provide the opportunity for growth and progress.
Furthermore, Rodgers highlighted the significance of quality. He emphasized that in order to compete at this level, the team must possess a certain level of quality. He hopes that during his tenure, the team will bridge any gaps in quality in specific positions on the field. This will not only enable them to compete but also to emerge victorious in matches. Celtic’s recent defeats in the Champions League have been incredibly painful, suffering a heart-wrenching 2-1 loss at home to Lazio due to a last-minute goal, as well as being mercilessly thrashed 6-0 by Atletico Madrid. Despite these setbacks, Rodgers firmly maintains that Celtic should not alter their style of play.
According to Rodgers, the key lies in adaptability rather than pragmatism. He explains that Celtic’s approach revolves around playing and training in a manner that suits their desired style – an intense and fast-paced game. However, he acknowledges that at this high level of competition, there will be occasions where maintaining balance and defensive capabilities become crucial. He expressed, “I have no intention of adopting a defensive strategy to keep the team close to our own goal because there’s a risk of losing, and I would prefer to lose while playing according to our desired style, maintaining our dignity and fighting for our preferred approach.”
Nevertheless, Rodgers recognized the importance of refining certain aspects of both our defensive and offensive tactics at this level. He is confident that Celtic has demonstrated their ability to compete here, but it is these finer points that truly set teams apart.