Brendan Rodgers uses PSG ‘reality check’ to spur Celtic against Anderlecht

Ewan Murray in Brussels on 26 September 2017

Brendan Rodgers has urged his Celtic players to use memories from a “reality check” against Paris Saint-Germain to kick-start their Champions League campaign at Anderlecht on Wednesday. Celtic endured a record-equalling home defeat when they were beaten 5-0 by PSG in Glasgow, with Rodgers uncharacteristically critical of his team.

“I think games like the PSG one are little reality checks,” Rodgers said. “That’s what it’s like at this level. I always tend to think there is learning in every situation. It’s about facing problems you want to solve afterwards. The lesson learned for us in that first game means we hope to be better in the future games.

“Obviously, they’re very humbling experiences for players. It’s boys who are used to winning and when you come up against that level of play at the very top level of the game then it’s tough and it’s humbling. But we’ve got an honest group. They’ve got spirit and we feel they’ll improve over the course of the campaign.

“We didn’t plan and focus on being that timid in the PSG game. But this is a level where you are learning all the time. Just because we have been on the domestic run we’ve been on for the last 15 months or so doesn’t mean you’re not susceptible to not good performances.

“It’s important for us as a team and a club that we don’t just see the qualification as the success, I want to try to create a mentality here that we can come and believe that we can get a result wherever we go. That’s going to be over time, to have the confidence at this level.”

Anderlecht clearly represented a different level of opponent for Celtic even before a dismal start to the season. The side are seventh in the Belgian League and sacked their manager, René Weiler, last week.

“This is a competition they will view as an opportunity to turn fortunes around,” Rodgers said. “You never know what happens with a change of manager, sometimes there is a bounce effect. There is a clean slate for everybody.

“I don’t really know the depth of the level in the domestic league here. But they are the champions of their country. If you look at the other champions we have played – Astana were a good side, Rosenborg beat Ajax who were the Europa League finalists last season. Anderlecht reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League, so they are still a very tough opponent. They are no mugs, they are a good side with a good history. They haven’t started the season as they would have wanted but the Champions League is a great motivating factor for them to kick on.”

Nicolás Frutos, who is in caretaker charge of Anderlecht, believes his team should win despite background chaos. Their players are sitting on bonuses reportedly worth £40,000 per man should they defeat the Scottish champions.

“Of course we are favourites because we are at home,” he said. “If Celtic were at home in Glasgow they would be the favourites.”

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