Bayern Munich superstar Arjen Robben believes the style of football Brendan Rodgers has instilled at Celtic could take the Scottish champions all the way to the latter stages of the Europa League this season.
Dutch winger Robben helped his side to a 2-1 win at Celtic Park on Tuesday night, which ended any hopes Rodgers’ side had of reaching the last 16 of the Champions League.
The Scottish champions, however, remain on course to finish third in Group B behind Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern, which would secure their primary target of staying in European competition beyond the turn of the year.
Celtic are currently three points ahead of bottom-placed Anderlecht with two rounds of fixtures remaining. They travel to face PSG in France on 22 November, before the potentially decisive match at home to Anderlecht on 5 December.
If Celtic do make it to the knockout stage of the Europa League by finishing third in the group, then Robben feels they could be serious contenders for a run to the final which is on 16 May in Lyon. Celtic have reached three European finals in their history, the most recent in 2003, when Martin O’Neill’s side lost to Porto in the Uefa Cup showpiece in Seville.
Robben said: “Celtic have a great chance to progress in the Europa League, especially at Parkhead with that kind of crowd.
“If it’s 14 years since they reached a European final then I wish them all the best and I hope they can be successful and maybe get there again,” added the 33-year-old former Chelsea and Real Madrid star.
“I see a more European than British style in Celtic and that’s why you have to give a big compliment to Brendan Rodgers.
“You can see his print on the team, the way they want to play. They want to play football, build up from the back and they did very well against us on Tuesday.”
Rodgers was Academy and reserve team coach at Chelsea during the period Robben played at Stamford Bridge from 2004 to 2007.
“I trained with Brendan a few times and played one or two friendly matches for his reserve team when I was coming back from injuries,” recalled Robben.
“I really liked his philosophy and the way he thinks about football, trying to play attacking football. He’s also a very good man.
“You could see he would progress in the game and he’s already done well in his managerial career. It’s been great for Celtic to get him and it was good for me to meet him again.
“The main thing for us in Glasgow was to get through to the next round and Celtic made it very difficult for us. We have to pay a big compliment to them and how they were prepared by Brendan and played with a lot of intensity.
“They threw everything they had into the game. Most of the time we had control of the game but there were times when Celtic were dangerous.
“They did a lot better than they did against in Munich two weeks ago when we won 3-0 and where we also played a little bit better.
“We had some difficulties on Tuesday and didn’t play our best game. It was also our third game in six days so the rhythm wasn’t there. But we are happy to win. I really enjoyed the atmosphere at Celtic Park. The fans are something special. That is something that can be very helpful – it’s one of the best I’ve seen in Europe.
“They gave me a great reception when I came off and that was very respectful and I’m very thankful for that because it’s not usual.”