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  • Brendan Rodgers: Zenit will be tough Europa League test for us

    Brendan Rodgers: Zenit will be tough Europa League test for us

    By: Tony Connelly on 11 Dec, 2017 16:47

  • CELTIC’S reward for progress to the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League is a tough tie against Russian side, Zenit Saint Petersburg.

    The first leg will take place at Celtic Park on Thursday, February 15, with the return a week later in Russia. And Brendan Rodgers is looking forward to meeting up again with Roberto Mancini, who is now managing Zenit.

    Speaking after the draw today (Monday), the Celtic manager said: “We’re delighted to be in the draw and it’s an exciting game for us. It’s a beautiful city, St Petersburg, from my memory out there. We’re really looking forward to that when that game comes along and it’ll be nice to see Roberto Mancini again.

    “When I was in between jobs, I was in talks with Manchester City about maybe going back there as a coach with the first-team. I flew out to Milan to meet Roberto and we had a nice chat but shortly after that conversation I got the Swansea City job and went there.

    “I haven’t kept in touch with him since but we would always speak after games, though, and he’s a good guy.”

    Zenit Saint Petersburg are currently third in the Russian League, six points behind leaders, Lokomotiv Moscow, ahead of the winter shutdown, which begins following their away game today (Monday) against Terek Grozny. Zenit’s next competitive fixture will be at Celtic Park in February next year.

    However, Brendan Rodgers knows they will provide a tough test for his players as the Hoops look to progress to the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League.

    “Zenit are doing okay in their league and they have some experienced players such as Branislav Ivanovic who I know from Chelsea,” he said. “Like ourselves, they’ll be looking to get through. It’s a game we’ll really look forward to when it comes around.”

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