Manchester City’s Champions League group concludes this evening with a home game against Celtic at the Etihad Stadium.
The draw away at Borussia Monchengladbach last time out means City are guaranteed second place in Group C and will be involved in Monday’s draw for the last-16 stage of the competition for the fourth consecutive season.
Back in September, City travelled to Glasgow and played out an entertaining 3-3 draw with Brendan Rodgers’ side. The atmosphere and quality of football on display made for a special occasion, and it’s now it’s time for the return fixture here in Manchester.
To get the inside track on Celtic, Club journalist Rob Pollard spoke to Craig Swan, sports reporter for Scotland’s Daily Record newspaper.
Hello Craig, thanks for talking to us. Brendan Rodgers appears to have had a really positive impact at Celtic in a short space of time. Give us a flavour of how much better than are than last season, which was a difficult one for the club.
They’re a thousand percent better than last season! It was just over a year ago we were in Molde watching Ronny Deila’s side get ripped apart in the Europa League. They didn’t win a game in the Europa League last season and were very much on a downward spiral.
Rodgers has made some cracking signings. You guys know Scott Sinclair well and Moussa Dembele’s done great. Kolo Toure did the job he was brought in to do, which was get them through the qualifiers when they were short of centre-halves.
But I think what most people have been impressed with has been his ability to galvanise some of the ones already here. Stuart Armstrong, Callum McGregor, Kieran Tierney obviously. Jozo Simunovic has been good, Erik Sviatchenko is improving. He’s getting the best of the guys there already and they’ve come on leaps and bounds.
It’s been great to see Celtic back in the Champions League and looking competitive again.
This Champions League run has been a bonus for Celtic this season – getting in was the key, obviously with the finance because they’ve missed out for the last few seasons.
When the draw came out, getting a single point would have been good because it’s just a learning curve for them. There’s loads of lads in that team who have never played at this level.
Barcelona and City are way ahead of anything in Scottish football in terms of spending, and Borussia Monchengladbach are very talented, as City know. They’ve exceeded the expectations of most people by getting in there and performing with some credit.
How have they looked since the 3-3 draw with City?
The City game gave them a foothold in the group – but the game after against Gladbach, it was kind of like after the Lord Mayor’s show. That was the one game everyone looked upon as one they could win and they kind of fell flat on their faces after the City game, it was weird. Even the stadium didn’t seem the same. Because the Manchester City game was such a high it was always going to be difficult to follow.
So they lost at home to Borussia but came back strongly in Germany and played really well and should have won that game to be honest. That gave them more confidence that they could go and play away from home.
The last game was Barcelona and obviously for Celtic that’s a bit of a write off. If you get anything out of that it’s a fluke and a bonus.
They’ve played five Group C games, two of them they’ve performed really well, two of them there was nothing they could do about, which was Barcelona, and at home to Gladbach is the only they’ve let themselves down in.
Our fans will be very interested to hear what you’ve made of Patrick Roberts. He’s been at Celtic close to a year now.
He was one of the success stories at the end of last season. Everything went wrong in the final season under Ronny Deila but Roberts came in and his performances were fantastic.
We really expected him to kick on under Rodgers and it’s been a funny one because another ex-City player Scott Sinclair came in and Rodgers has found the key to James Forrest on the other side. He likes two wide men and Patrick has missed out a little bit. He’s not played as much as he would have liked to because it’s so cut-throat in terms of competition for places.
Sinclair is out for a month now, though, I believe. He’s missed the last couple of games and that’s let Patrick in and he’s played well in the League Cup final and against Motherwell at the weekend, where he scored.
The Celtic fans would love to keep him but it’s unfeasible. City are going to want big money and I’m sure he was bought for his potential and is only at Celtic to gain more experience. I would be very surprised if City would be interested in selling him. And even if they did, I would have thought he’d be out of Celtic’s price range, given the way the finances are up here.
Fans love guys like that - guys who take players on with great ability and get people off their feet. He’s done really well.
What kind of side should we expect Rodgers to pick tonight?
It’s difficult to say. They have an horrendous run of games. It was eight games in 28 days through December which finishes with an Old Firm game on Hogmanay. So they have a really heavy schedule.
You’d think the temptation would be to leave a few guys out but when you’re trying to establish yourself in Europe and trying to build your confidence, I don’t think Rodgers would want to play a second string team and get badly beaten. I’m sure all the Celtic players want to play.
I think he’ll name a pretty strong team and I think they’re probably have a go. Rodgers will have gained confidence form the first game in the sense that if you get at City you have a chance.
I don’t expect him to be defensive, I think they will try and play on the front foot.