BRENDAN RODGERS reckons AEK Athens will be wary of Celtic before the Champions League qualifying showdowns.

The Greeks stand between the Hoops and the final play-off encounter as they bid for their third successive tilt at the lucrative groups stages of Europe’s elite competition.

Marinos Ouzounidis’ side will provide stern opposition, particularly in front of 70,000 of their supporters in the second leg in the Olympic Stadium in Athens on Tuesday week.

Rodgers, though, believes the Greeks will be aware of how well his players have performed in the Champions League, both in qualifying and in the group games, since he took charge two seasons ago.

The Irishman said: “Your job will always be to look at the opponents, their history and strengths and weaknesses. But I think we are also a good team.That’s something I always drive home to the players.

“Like I said to them on Wednesday night, you have a choice. Do you want to go to Athens or do you want to go to Cork? I think they wanted to go to Athens – no disrespect to Cork.”

Rodgers is unsure if his team will have an advantage over AEK whose league season has yet to start. He pointed out Rosenborg were well into their league campaign and they were beaten 3-1 over two legs.

He added: “I spoke to Stig Bjornebye after the game in Norway. He is their sporting director and a famous Liverpool player.

“He was talking about the fitness levels of our players in the first leg and how fit they looked considering they had not long started back compared to his players. You can never tell.”

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