Europa League: Zenit favourites against Celtic, says Brendan Rodgers

Europa League last-32, first leg: Celtic v Zenit St Petersburg
Venue: Celtic Park, Glasgow Date: Thursday 15 February Kick-off: 20:05 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Scotland MW & DAB and live text on BBC Sport website

Celtic progression in the Europa League at the expense of Zenit St Petersburg would be viewed as an upset in the football world, says Brendan Rodgers.

The Scottish champions’ manager is adamant that the Russian side are very much the favourites for the first leg of their last-32 tie in Glasgow.

“I think in terms of the standings of both teams in Europe right now, it would be fair to say that,” he said.

“We have to be realistic – we know where we are.”

Zenit have not played a competitive match since mid-December because of an extended winter break, but Rodgers thinks that might work in the Russians’ favour.

Celtic, meanwhile, have played six times since the Scottish Premiership clubs returned from their winter break on 20 January, winning five of them and losing one to Kilmarnock.

“You could look at it the other way and say they could be fresher,” Northern Irishman Rodgers said.

“They’ve been off for a period of time, but they’ve been working and have played a number of games.

“And the nature of the competition means it’s going to very difficult for us.

“But it’s a really exciting challenge. For us, our objective was to progress through from the Champions League and now we can focus on these two games.”

More to follow.

Europa League: Zenit favourites against Celtic, says Brendan Rodgers