Brendan Rodgers keen for Celtic to beat Salzburg and go through in style

BRENDAN Rodgers would probably accept an uninspiring 0-0 draw when Celtic face Salzburg in their final Europa League group game at Parkhead on Thursday evening.

His men just need a point to finish ahead of RB Leipzig in their section and reach the knockout rounds for the second consecutive season.

Finishing second in Group B and achieving their objective would, then, be welcomed even if the encounter isn’t a classic.

But the Northern Irishman doesn’t just want the Scottish champions to reach the last 32 of the competition, he wants them to do it in style. With a sell-out crowd set to pack out Parkhead once again to back their heroes in Europe, he would like them to give the home supporters something to cheer.

Having beaten RB Leipzig at home and Rosenborg away in their last two games, Rodgers has his heart set on a hat-trick of continental victories.

Winning would also put Celtic on 12 points which would be their highest points total in a European group stage.

“I’d have taken this scenario at the start of the group, absolutely,” said Rodgers. “All you can do is have it in your own hands. Thankfully, going into the last game, we have that.

“If we can come through, it would be absolutely brilliant for us. We have faced three good sides in the group – two national champions and a top Leipzig side.

“It would be a great achievement for us and that is the aim – to make it past Christmas.

“I said to the players at the start if they got 10 points they would come close. If you don’t get through with 10, you’d be very unlucky. We have a chance to finish with 10 or 12, and that would be great.”

Having played impressively against both Leipzig and Rosenborg despite the pressure they were under to triumph, Rodgers would like to see Celtic produce an entertaining spectacle too.

“The last two wins go back to the way we work and reinforcing our style of play,” he said. “In the last two years, our success has been built on a very clear defined way of playing.

“We have regained the style and culture of how we play and have shown against Leipzig and Rosenborg that we are a good team. We haven’t just got results, we’ve been exciting to watch.”

Rodgers, though, knows that Celtic will have to be at their very best to overcome opponents who will, after winning all five of their group games, harbour serious ambitions of winning the tournament.

Salzburg reached the semi-final last year only to be knocked out by French rivals Marseille after extra-time in the second leg.

“They have got big players and they spend big money,” he said. “That allows them to have those players. They are a very good side.

“The competition will increase again this year in the Europa League, but I think they will look at going far again as a possibility. Of course they’ll want to get to the final and go one better.

“They are a very good side. They have shown that over the course of the last few seasons. Even though people talk about the fact we only need a point, we are going to have to earn every point that we get on Thursday.”

Rodgers doesn’t expect Marco Rose’s charges to down tools either. “They see Europe as an opportunity beyond their domestic league to show their qualities,” he said.

“For some of the young players it is the opportunity to do that. They are a good team – well structured, good speed, youth and experience in there.”