As reported by The Daily Mail, Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has admitted that his side need to show defensive improvement if they’re to secure an important result at home to FC Zenit on Thursday in the UEFA Europa League.
The Russian Premier League side scored more goals than anyone in the group stages of the competition, while Celtic conceded more goals than anyone in the group stages of the Champions League.
With defensive frailties again on show at home to Partick Thistle on Saturday, it’s clear that the Hoops are up against it this Thursday when knockout European football returns to the East end of Glasgow for the first time in three years.
Brendan Rodgers has admitted they need to raise their game, but hopes that the occasion can inspire his players to do supporters proud.
Speaking after their recent cup match and quoted by The Daily Mail, the Hoops boss said:
We will clearly need to play better than we did today but, hopefully, the occasion brings that performance up. We have a lot of players missing with injuries but they are two really exciting games for us and the first leg here on Thursday should be a fantastic game. We’ll get ready for that over the next few days and look forward to it. But we need to defend better and play better from behind.
Can the Hoops prove that they can compete against the elite sides in Europe, or are they destined to be left licking their wounds once again?
It would be harsh for anyone to expect Celtic to beat their Russian opponents on Thursday given the difference in resources between the two sides and difference in quality of league. Zenit will be one of the teams hoping to go deep into the competition this season, guided by Roberto Mancini.
What Celtic fans will expect though is a committed performance and one which is light years beyond their showing last time out in European competition against Anderlecht, when they were far too passive and didn’t look like they had any belief of getting a result at all.
The Hoops have to prove they desire improvement at this level and even in defeat, can please supporters this Thursday.
Not making any basic defensive errors would also be a massive benefit too, of course. Shoring up Celtic’s leaky defence must be Brendan Rodgers’ priority first and foremost.