Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers says that his side are underdogs for their Europa League Last 32 tie with Zenit St Petersburg and says that Celtic have to be realistic about their standing in European football.
As reported by the BBC, when Rodgers asked if the Russians are very much the favourites for the tie, he replied:
I think in terms of the standings of both teams in Europe right now, it would be fair to say that. We have to be realistic – we know where we are.
Zenit haven’t played a competitive game since mid-December due to their winter break, whilst Celtic have six times since returning from their own break on January 20th and Rodgers thinks that although Zenit could be rusty, the lack of games could be beneficial for them.
You could look at it the other way and say they could be fresher. They’ve been off for a period of time, but they’ve been working and have played a number of games and the nature of the competition means it’s going to very difficult for us but it’s a really exciting challenge. For us, our objective was to progress through from the Champions League and now we can focus on these two games.
It seems like the manager is trying to take the pressure away from his players ahead of the first-leg in Glasgow on Thursday evening, but come kick-off, a packed Celtic Park will be expecting the home side to put up a good fight, like they’ve done against high quality opposition numerous times in the past.