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Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers is plotting a way to stop threat of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers (SNS Group / Craig Williamson)
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers (SNS Group / Craig Williamson)

BRENDAN RODGERS is facing one of the biggest tasks in football – he has to find a way to stop Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.

The Celtic boss admits he’s a huge fan of the 29-year-old. Given a choice between Ronaldo and Messi, Rodgers would take the Argentinian every time.

He will get another chance to see the superstar up close when Barca face Celtic in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

Rodgers said: “Messi is the best for me.

“I can only talk about now. My father loved Pele and I loved Maradona. That was a big thing for me growing up.

“It’s hard to choose between Messi and Ronaldo because it’s just what you prefer. I don’t think there’s one better than the other.

“If I could sign just one of them? It would be Lionel Messi because he excites you, doesn’t he?

“He’s that type of player I love and he works his socks off.

“He has proven against teams superior to us that he makes the difference. But that’s the big challenge.”

Although Celtic suffered a 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Barcelona in the Nou Camp, Rodgers is well aware that some supporters will hope their favourites can pull off a shock victory at home.

He went on: “That is how it should be.

“We recognise that every game is different but I think when you come into the cauldron, it is a different theatre to play in. They have experienced it before, and they know it’s tough.

“Hopefully what we have created here in a short period of time is a team that’s not going to wait for opponents.

“We have to be aggressive.

“We know they are some of the top players ever. But we have to get up to them and see how they cope when you are right at them.

“Then we can always assess it later.

“It is great that we feel we can do something. It’s a mark of where the club’s going.”

Celtic beat Barcelona at Parkhead back in 2012 in a match where they had just 27% of the possession.

Rodgers went on: “The most-important thing is dangerous possession.

“If you’re more dangerous in that 27% of possession, then you have the chance to win.

“We saw it recently with Burnley against Liverpool. They had 19% possession but they were a threat with it and won 2-0.

“It was an incredible result four years ago. It was one of those games played in the two boxes.

“The winner was a great counter-attack goal from Tony Watt. Then it was a case of  ‘defend for your life’!”


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