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Brendan Rodgers: Celtic have learned from 7-0 mauling in Barcelona

Brendan Rodgers with Luis Suarez at the Nou Camp

Rodgers will be reunited with Luis Suarez, who he managed at Liverpool

Celtic will leave their respect for Barcelona on the sidelines when the teams meet on Wednesday, says manager Brendan Rodgers.

Celtic were hammered 7-0 at the Nou Camp in their opening Champions League Group C match in September.

Rodgers believes his players learned a valuable lesson in that emphatic defeat, and the experience will be a positive influence at Celtic Park.

“We clearly showed them too much respect on the field,” said Rodgers.

“There were many different aspects of the game we learned from, showing that courage to get on the ball, having that bravery, having respect for the opponent, but not necessarily within the game.

“The scoreline was bitterly disappointing, but the players have shown they’ve learned from it; we’re playing them at home, so it’s a real good measure and our mentality will change.

“The players have shown from that game that they’ve changed. It will be tough for us, of course, against a top-class team with arguably the best front three you could say has played for Barcelona, but I would hope it would be a different performance from us.”

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Suarez and Messi missed Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Malaga

Rodgers touched many bases, including the feat of the Lisbon Lions winning the European Cup in 1967 – which he called a “unique achievement for football” – and Celtic’s 2-1 Champions League success against Barca in Glasgow in 2012.

“What it shows is that it can be done,” Rodgers said of the exploits of Neil Lennon’s side. “The players can take inspiration from that game.

“There are many variables that go into it. You need a bit of luck along the way, you need to play at the top of your game, you need your goalkeeper to play well because you know he’ll have to make saves and you hope you can take the opportunities that come your way.

“We’ve no fear of the result. We want to perform well and if we do that in our pressing, our recovery of the ball and being clinical in the final third, then we believe we have a chance.

“Bravery for me is the courage to love the football, the ability to want the ball. It’s always the measure for me when I ask them team to play, it’s not always about smashing into tackles. At the time, it [the 7-0 defeat] was very disappointing, but it hasn’t harmed us.

“If anything, it’s improved us a group and a squad. We need to look to impose our style and make it as difficult as we possibly can.”

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Rodgers saw the funny side of a question on the Loch Ness monster

Analysis – BBC Scotland’s Richard Wilson

This was Rodgers in his element: a big occasion, fielding questions about elite-level football. He handled it with poise. Even a question about stopping Lionel Messi, that drew on the existence or otherwise of the Loch Ness monster, didn’t faze him.

The Celtic manager – who listened intently to his Spanish translator, having a grasp of the language – paused, laughed, and then described it as “probably the worst question I’ve been asked”. It was a moment of good-natured humour, and his control of the situation was a contrast to the sense that the job tended to overwhelm his predecessor, Ronny Deila.

As he reflected on the challenge of Barcelona, he kept referencing Manchester City. He was reaching for the most apt expression of the qualities that he knows his side will need.

The 3-3 draw with City at Celtic Park was full of surging emotion and intensity, when Rodgers’ team played with a focused energy. The high-tempo nature of the game suited the hosts, because it introduced an element of unpredictability, since opponents of the quality of City or Barcelona can quickly move out of reach if they are allowed an element of control.

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Celtic drew 3-3 at home with Manchester City but lost 2-0 in Glasgow to Borussia Monchengladbach

Rodgers wants his side to take command of games through possession, but there has to be pragmatism when opponents are more adept at that. If Celtic can be aggressive – in their pressing and work-rate – they can begin to force the flow in their favour.

Containing Barcelona’s front three is a daunting task, and the positioning of the defensive line has to be a careful balance between closing down space in midfield and not leaving too much in behind for Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar to take advantage of.

Celtic’s shape at the Camp Nou left Barcelona’s attack with too much room to manoeuvre, but there was logic in trying to close down space in midfield. Rodgers wants his players to impose themselves, and Scott Sinclair and Moussa Dembele may need to take the attacking fight to Barcelona on their own at times.

On Wednesday, Celtic need to turn this encounter in a hectic, unflinching occasion – then hope for the best.