Celtic out to finish off Rosenborg

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

Celtic out to finish off Rosenborg

Ronne Esplin

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

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

The losers will face Cork City in the Europa League third qualifying 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”.

Rodgers was asked last night 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.

“But we anticipate a difficult night and hopefully we can get through by playing well and scoring goals.”

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.

“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.

“But it doesn’t take away the fact that it is two historical clubs.

“We played really well last year when we were here but that doesn’t count for anything.

But of course we come with an advantage and feel we can come here and play well.

Celtic are without defender Jozo Simunovic who is suspended, while Dedryck Boyata will not feature.

While waiting patiently for new faces to come into the club, Rodgers is hoping to extend the contracts of defender 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 just needs a bit of time.

“The talks have been ongoing. I had a long chat with Dedryck yesterday and he is in a good place. We want to keep him for as long as we can, that is important.

Whether he decides he wants to move on after this year, that will be up to him and his representative. But my priority is getting him fit and back into the team because he is a top-class player.

“James is coming into his final year and he is clearly a player we would love to keep.”

Rosenborg boss Coolen, who took the reins just before the trip to Glasgow after Rosenborg dispensed with the services of boss Kare Ingebrigtsen, conceded that his side will have to gamble if they are to upset the odds.

“Celtic deserved the win last week and in the end we were lucky that we didn’t lose more goals,” he said.

“But hopefully we can do some things differently tomorrow. We are playing at home and we have our supporters.

“We have a chance to win the game but we have to create those circumstances and yes we have to take some risks and yes we have to give away some spaces, but we will not open the door.

“We know things happen in football that you don’t expect. We have examples in high-level games, Champions League qualification games, and in the World Cup.

“Anything can happen in football. Sometimes things happen that you don’t expect but realistically, it will not be easy.

“Celtic have a bigger chance to go through than us but it doesn’t mean that we don’t have a chance at all.”

Skipper Mike Jensen does 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.

The 30-year-old Denmark midfielder said: “After we lost to Celtic last year we beat Ajax home and away.

We were at our best then. It is always small margins and some luck and sometimes you need that. It is football, anything can happen and you have to believe in yourself.

“Celtic are big favourites to go through but it is not like we have zero chance.

“It is difficult to put our chances into a percentage but if we play at our best we are a really good team and we have shown that a lot of times.

“But we have to step up from the game we played at Celtic Park.”

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