Brendan Rodgers is under no illusions as to the task his Celtic side face when free-scoring Manchester City visit Parkhead tonight and admits the Hoops are facing a “difficult night”.
The Hoops were thrashed 7-0 by Barcelona in their Champions League Group C opener in the Nou Camp and match day two brings Pep Guardiola’s in-form side who have won their first 10 games in all competitions.
Rodgers, who confirmed Craig Gordon would take over in goal from Dorus de Vries who is still not 100% after having to go off at half-time in the 6-1 win over Kilmarnock at the weekend, is excited about taking on the Premier League leaders.
However, he knows his players will need to work hard to reduce the disparity between the two sides.
“It is really exciting,” said the former Swansea and Liverpool boss.
“But Man City are a top team, everyone can see that clearly, they have that world-class ability, great individuals who are working hard.
“We know we have to bring our A game to have any chance and that is something hopefully we can do.
“The reality is if they bring their A game and we bring ours, they win. But we know we have to make it as uncomfortable as we can for them.
“As a coach and players these are the types of occasions and games that you look forward to and we look forward to it.
“We have a respect for their qualities and their game but we have to ensure we are super-committed into our way of working and we know we have players that can give them a problem.
“I have watched them in the last four or five seasons and they have always had an outstanding group of players, winning leagues and cups.
“But the level of play has gone up since Pep has come in. The intensity has gone up and they are a team working with one idea and they are a hard team to contain.
“We know it is going to be a difficult night but we know it is going to be a difficult night for them.”
Rodgers is hoping Raheem Sterling, who has rediscovered his form since Guardiola arrived in the summer, has an off night.
The Irishman gave the winger his debut at Liverpool at the age of 17 and Sterling went on to move to City in 2015 for a deal reportedly worth £49m.
“I have been so proud to watch him this season to the level that he has been at,” said Rodgers.
“I am absolutely delighted for him.
“He was a great boy to work with. I think back to the time he was a young kid at Liverpool and to see him grow from that 17-year-old who made his first start, funny enough, against Manchester City at Anfield, not only as a player but as a person over three seasons.
“It was difficult the first season he left, it always is when you have so much expectation on you.
“You leave Liverpool for £49 million and you are expected to perform right away and you have to remember he is a boy, he is 21-years of age.
“But he has really shown that with a focus, a way of working and a way of playing, he is a top-class player.
City boss Pep Guardiola has played down the importance of equalling a winning record.
Since the former Barcelona boss took over, City have won all 10 of the competitive matches they have played so far this season, six of which have been in the Premier League. Victory over Brendan Rodgers’ side would draw them level with Tottenham’s record-setting 11 wins on the bounce from the start of the 1960/61 season.
Guardiola, who confirmed Kevin De Bruyne, Vincent Kompany and Fabian Delph would be out, said: “Wins help to win more. The confidence is a real aspect to the way we play.
“But every game is hard. Tomorrow I am not concerned or focused on a little, little record.
“In the future an English team will win 12-13 games in a row, that is going to happen. What I want tomorrow is to play well.”
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