BRENDAN RODGERS insists Celtic have a chance against Lazio in Rome tonight – if none of his players sees red.
The Hoops’ hopes of progress in Europe are hanging by a thread after three losses and a draw in their ill-fated Champions League quest this time out.
The warning signs were flashing after the first game when the visitors had Gustaf Lagerbielke and Odin Holm banished in quickfire fashion in six second-half minutes as Rodgers’ men toppled to a 2-0 loss against Feyenoord in Rotterdam in late September.
Daizen Maeda joined the bad Bhoys’ list with his unfortunate dismissal in the nosedive in Madrid and his 22nd-minute ordering-off left the visitors with way too much to do against a rampant home side with Andre Griezmann and Alavaro Morata performing at their best.
Rodgers said: “The key is making sure we have 11 on the field and when we have shown that in all of the games we have been good.
“We learned that over the course of the competition against Lazio and the other teams when it’s 11 v 11 we can really compete.
“That’s the challenge for us and at this level it’s the top end of the field and dealing with that quality collectively.
“I’m excited and I’m really looking forward to seeing us play and I think we can get the result we want, but we need to work really hard.”
Reflecting on the first game against the Serie A outfit where Celtic saw a late goal from Luis Palma ruled out for a tight offside position before Pedro scored his agonising seventh-minute stoppage-time winner, Rodgers, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “You have to be concentrated right until the end.
“We looked like the team that was going to win and we lost which was a big disappointment.
“You also have to be clinical as you won’t get as many opportunities and the quality and experience is what progresses you at this level.
“As a club, it’s what we want to do, but we know the challenges at this level.
“The points tally doesn’t reflect the performance, but we have two games and we know what we need to do and we will give it everything to achieve the victories we need.”
Maurizio Sarri’s side lost 2-1 to Salernitana at the weekend and are currently languishing 11th in the league table, but Rodgers warned: “It’s a different competition and you come into the next game and you want to perform.
“The Champions League is a fantastic competition to play in and however you’re doing in the league you feel that change when you come into it.
“No matter how Lazio is doing domestically, we are expecting a tough game.
“They have strikers who can score goals and they will be disappointed they didn’t win at the weekend and haven’t won in three games but they have talent and they have shown that in this competition.”
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