GIVEN the number of times the clubs have met in the last year, Celtic players could be forgiven for treating Brendan Rodgers’ message that they will face a very different Rosenborg this week as nothing but good news.
Yet as the Hoops boss prepares for the first of their Europa League group games at Celtic Park on Thursday, he insists it is a warning against complacency that the latest rematch will go the same way as the earlier Champions League qualifier.
“Since we drew with them in Trondheim (a result that put the Norwegians out by 3-1 on aggregate) they have won eight and drawn one of their last nine domestic games,” he said.
“That’s terrific form and it pushed them right to the top of their league table.
“Listen, they are a good side. The top side over there in Norway, and have some good players.
“We have seen that in the recent games. It was unstable there for a while with the manager leaving but, of course, winning games can always change that.”
In one of the small coincidences football often throws up, Rosenborg will today warm up for their reunion with a league match against Valerenga, the team managed by Rodgers’ predecessor in the role, Ronny Deila.
But while Celtic will scout the game, it is unlikely they will look to Deila for any special insight.
“Ronny’s always there, if we need. I spoke to Ronny when I first came in here and he visited Parkhead for one of the games.
“If I think there is any need, or a drastic change in anything, we would do that. He’s a friend of the club, and a friend of Celtic but, in fairness, we have a lot of things that are covered.
“Their style doesn’t change so much. They play a pretty clear way.
“It’s actually a nice city to go to, to be fair. Nice stadium but, of course, it’s a different context. At least we are not going into the unknown, we know what to expect.
“So we just deal with it.”
Rodgers preaches a similarly pragmatic approach to the fact the team find themselves playing Europa League football in September, rather being involved in Champions League action.
“The competition itself deserves the respect,” said the Celtic manager.
“Every team would love to be in the Champions League, but this year we aren’t.
“However, we are still in a really prestigious competition and, for me, European football is very important for us as a club.
“Our objective again will be to have European football after Christmas.
“We are in a good group, we have tough games, but still exciting games and occasions the supporters should look forward to.”