Valencia vs Celtic - Celtic still have a chance to progress

Posted Thursday, February 21, 2019 by PA

Valencia vs Celtic - Celtic still have a chance to progress

Celtic’s Europa League journey is not over yet, according to boss Brendan Rodgers.

The Hoops are in Spain for the second leg of their Europa League last-32 tie against Valencia on Thursday night with a 2-0 defeat to overturn from the first game in Glasgow.

The Scottish champions have not won in Spain in 15 attempts and are odds-on to exit the tournament, but Rodgers remains optimistic.

Speaking at the Mestalla Stadium, the Northern Irishman said: “It was disappointing last week but we can come back again tomorrow night and that is something that is very much within our culture.

“We know it is a challenge but if I look at the game and ask myself do we have a chance? Of course we do.

“And when the answer is yes we have to put every energy and effort into taking that chance, even though it will be difficult.

“That’s been the make-up of this group since I came. It’s a game that we look forward to.

“We obviously have to work our way into the game. If we think back to our home leg, we started very well and lost our way a little bit.

“We conceded just before and after half-time which broke our rhythm in the game and made it difficult against a good side.

“It will be important to be defensively compact, tight and concentrated. And then when we have the ball we look to create opportunities.

“The first goal will be very important, but it’s about not giving anything away. We are playing a good team.

“Our focus is on bringing our game. We need to be strong and aggressive, we can’t make mistakes. We made two mistakes and found ourselves two down.

“If we can get that first goal that will give the team that extra confidence to go and get another.”

Celtic bounced back from the defeat in Spain with a last-gasp 1-0 Ladbrokes Premiership win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Sunday to take them eight points clear at the top of the table, which offers Rodgers added encouragement.

The former Liverpool boss said: “After a disappointing performance we’ve always tried to analyse it openly and honestly.

“We had to be concentrated on Sunday to get a result and we eventually did that.

“The result and how we performed in Sunday’s game will give us confidence, but this is a different game and different level.

“What we need to ensure is that in the moments of pressure we can stay strong and stay compact. It’s a challenge for us, but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Boss Marcelino wants his Valencia side to be at their very best.

Marcelino, speaking through an interpreter at the club’s training ground, stressed how keen he was to have his players focused on another good performance.

He said: “Being relaxed is not good, ever.

“The team’s mind-set should be to win, no matter what happened in the previous match.

“We are going to try any way we can to convince the players that maximum effort, maximum concentration is the way to achieve a good result which is to be in the next round.

“All matches are important. We cannot relax or think that everything is already done. We want to win again.

“Celtic have a clear way to play, a clear philosophy, if they could not do it more effectively it was because of the good job from an organisation and commitment point of view from us.

“Also, we scored at important times in the game.

“Before the first game we felt the first game would be dangerous and difficult but if it was not it was because of the wonderful job of our players. We don’t believe they will change hugely.

“It is not decided. We have to have the utmost respect for Celtic.

“We don’t want any surprises and the best way to avoid surprises is to think of ourselves and try to get close to our best performance and respect fully the opponents’ ability.”

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