Celtic want Champions League result in Barcelona - Brendan Rodgers

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Rodgers: 'Beautiful' Suarez is world's best striker

Celtic are not in Barcelona to be "passengers" in Tuesday's Champions League tie, says boss Brendan Rodgers.

The Scottish champions face the Spanish giants in their first group match, but Rodgers insists it is not a "free game" given the low expectations on his side.

"We understand the difficulty," said the Northern Irishman. "We want to enjoy it, but we want to get a result."

He paid special tribute to Barca's Luis Suarez, calling him the "best striker in the world" and "a beautiful man".

Much of Rodgers' pre-match chat was a paean to Spanish football and, in particular, Barcelona and the extraordinary Suarez.

He described the La Liga champions' attack of Suarez, Argentina forward Lionel Messi and Brazil's Neymar as "arguably the best front three of all time" - but he singled out the Uruguay international he worked with for two years when in charge of Liverpool.

"At this moment in time, Luis is the greatest striker in the world," said Rodgers.

"First of all, when you speak about him, you have to speak about the man. Luis Suarez is one of the most beautiful men you could come across. He's a very humble guy who works tirelessly at his profession.

"The biggest compliment you can give him is he came into an already world-class team and he made them better. When I see them play now, Barcelona would not be the same without Luis Suarez in the team.

"To stop him? It's very, very difficult. Like all world-class players, they always find the space.

"You can have all the tactical ideas and systems, you can park two double-decker buses in front of goal, but the world-class players always find the space."

Brendan Rodgers and Luis Suarez
Rodgers and Suarez stay in touch after working together at Liverpool

Rodgers recalled coming to Barcelona a decade ago with his son and said he is a "huge admirer of everything the club stands for".

"I took him here for his 13th birthday and he's now 23 and a professional footballer himself," he said. "I have a great love of how the club operates and the values they have here."

The love song to Barca continued - but for all the compliments about a great rival, there was confidence in his own team as well.

"We're not here just to be a passenger," Rodgers added. "If you want that easy-easy life then it's not the level to be playing at.

"When you want to be successful, you always put pressure on yourself.

"Barcelona test you physically, tactically and mentally. Their style of play over the last 30 years tests you - and it's a challenge we're relishing.

"Better teams than us have found it difficult, but we're looking forward to it."

Rodgers played down Barcelona's travails from the weekend, when a team without Messi and Suarez in the starting XI lost at home to Alaves, a shock result that had some local press speculating about internal strife at the Nou Camp.

Luis Enrique, the Barca coach, dismissed that in his own news conference, but there is pressure on the home team not just to win - Celtic are 33-1 to win and 11-1 to draw - but to win well.

"Their loss can be a positive for us, but it can also work the other way," said Rodgers. "You can waken up a team with a result like that."

Suarez, Messi and Neymar are yet to start a game together for Barcelona this season
Suarez, Messi and Neymar are yet to start a game together for Barcelona this season

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