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Former Celtic star Chris Sutton backs Brendan Rodgers to silence Barcelona

Champions League

By Samuel Stevens

Published 13/09/2016

Hear we go: Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers faces media ahead of tonight’s game in Barcelona
Hear we go: Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers faces media ahead of tonight’s game in Barcelona
Brendan fan: Chris Sutton says the Ulsterman has energised Celtic

Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton has backed Brendan Rodgers' side to compete with Barcelona in the battle of the Spanish and Scottish champions at the Nou Camp tonight.

The Bhoys go into the Champions League Group C opener on the back of the 5-1 victory against Rangers in the Old Firm derby at the weekend but are underdogs for the clash with Luis Enrique's La Liga title-winners.

Sutton scored 63 goals for Celtic over six years, including one against Barca in 2004, and believes Rodgers' appointment was the catalyst for their upturn in fortunes.

More: Champions League live scores: Celtic v Barcelona, Paris St-Germain v Arsenal, Manchester City v Borussia Mönchengladbach - results, and fixtures

The former Liverpool manager replaced Ronny Deila after the Norwegian won two titles in as many years but failed to qualify for the Champions League on both occasions before subsequent early exits from the Europa League.

"You have to look back at last season and the semi-final against Rangers and that was certainly the catalyst for the whole change," Sutton said.

"In such a short space of time, it has been a remarkable turnaround. The team last season certainly wouldn't have achieved Champions League group stage football.

"Rodgers spoke about it being the aim with the players in pre-season and just to get to the group stages is a massive achievement and a game-changer in terms of the finances. Looking at this campaign, I think this is a fantastic group for them and they can just go and enjoy it."

Sutton believes Celtic fans won't load too much expectation on the club to get results in Europe this season, but admits good performances, both home and away, are absolutely essential.

"This is a team who, last season in the Europa League, under-achieved," the 43-year-old added.

"They were beaten twice by Molde. This was a club who had lost 30,000 fans last season. Everything has changed significantly in such a short space of time under Rodgers.

"The stadium is nearly full domestically and he has brought the big nights back to Celtic, and I think the fans are just happy they are there. The reality is competition against the likes of Barcelona and Man City is going to be enormously difficult but do Celtic fans expect to win?

"I think they expect their team to really compete well and, if that happens, they will be happy," he said.

*BT Sport is the only place to watch all four major football competitions in one place, with exclusively live coverage of the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League and the FA Cup. Watch Celtic versus Barcelona in the Champions League exclusively live on BT Sport 3 from 7pm tonight.

Belfast Telegraph

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