Brendan Rodgers hopes Celtic can right some wrongs in Paris

Celtic defender Kieran Tierney keeps his eye on the ball while Leigh Griffiths and Scott Brown share a joke in training ahead of tonight's game. Picture: SNS
Celtic defender Kieran Tierney keeps his eye on the ball while Leigh Griffiths and Scott Brown share a joke in training ahead of tonight's game. Picture: SNS
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Two months ago, Celtic suffered as chastening a defeat as has ever been known on their own patch.

The record 5-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain on matchday one of their Champions League group stage campaign also prompted the rarity of Brendan Rodgers publicly criticising his players.

The Celtic manager accused them of playing like “under-12s” during a first half in which PSG’s £400 million strikeforce of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe all scored to give the French champions a 3-0 half-time lead.

Even an improved second-half display by Rodgers’ men was not enough to prevent two more goals late in the game for as impressive a visiting team as have visited Scotland in many a year.

Tonight in the Parc des Princes, redemption is highly unlikely to come in the form of a victory for Celtic who are rated an all-time record of 28-1 by the bookmakers to triumph against a PSG side who have sustained their all-conquering form in the group since that opening night.

But Rodgers believes there is still an opportunity to right some of the wrongs of that heavy home defeat, regardless of the result.

“It’s about developing the personality of our team when you play teams of this level in the Champions League,” he said. “I recognise at the point in time we played PSG in September, they had just brought in £400m worth of players. They were excited themselves, it was their first Champions League game together and we probably bore the brunt of their quality and ambition.

“But I’ll always demand more and I think the players recognised it themselves afterwards. The second half was better. We showed in our last game against Bayern Munich at Celtic Park, the personality and pride we want to play with.

“I’m not naive enough not to know the level we are playing against here. We are up against the best of the best. It’s not just a one-tier jump up. This is really operating against the world’s best. That can be 
difficult.

“People say it’s similar for Celtic playing in Scotland but it’s totally different to teams in the Premiership playing against us. You are up against the elite on the planet here.

“But my intention is always ‘okay, I respect that – but let’s make them fight’. You can still come out of a game having lost, as we did 2-1 against Bayern last time, and have pride. You can have people saying ‘you’re a good side and you’re tough to play against’. So that’s the aim. Even though PSG have a group of players who are steam-rollering everyone, can we go and put on a performance which gives us pride in it?

“I always think after every negative, like the 5-0 defeat against PSG, there is a positive you can take from it. It is what the reaction is, like it was when we lost 7-0 in Barcelona the previous year and it wasn’t a good night for us.

“There are enough issues playing against these teams but can you then help your own players to find the solutions? As a team, we try to learn. We have to take defeat and it can be hard at times but that one, on that first night against PSG, was a tough one for us. That was football at the very highest level. The number of people who have told me that was the best away performance they have seen at Celtic Park is amazing. There have been some great teams but PSG took the ball on the edge of their own six-yard box, being pressed. That shows the belief and qualities of world-class players.”

The contrast in environment for Celtic in the French capital could hardly be starker in comparison to last Saturday’s trip to Dingwall where they ground out a 1-0 win against Ross County to maintain their dominance of domestic football. It provides a level of demand which Rodgers feels his players are becoming more adept at meeting. “We know the steps we make,” he added. “We had to do a professional job at Ross County, which we did. Then you come to Paris and it’s a totally different level in every aspect of football.

“You have to cope with that and our players are learning to do that all the time. There’s an excitement to it. It’s not a chore, it’s not something that frightens us. Like last season, as the Champions League goes on, you grow into it and get a greater belief in your work. Hopefully you can perform better.

“We’ve got certain added bits of quality in one or two areas of the field when we play in Scotland. Of course we have the highest budget in the Premiership and there is expectancy to win.

“But if you go from where we are at to facing the best players in world football, we’re not talking about the jump to the Premier League or that level, the best team in Belgium or Norway, then this is quite a big jump. But that is the competition. That is what we are in it for, to play in and develop.”