Atletico Madrid v Celtic: Improvements in Europe hearten Rodgers

Champions League: Atletico Madrid v Celtic

Venue: Metropolitano Stadium, Madrid Date: Tuesday, 7 November Kick-off: 20:00 GMT

Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland Extra/DAB/810MW, live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app

Brendan Rodgers takes encouragement from Celtic's improvement in the Champions League as they visit Atletico Madrid at the halfway stage.

Celtic sit bottom of Group E with three games to play, having picked up their only point in a breathless 2-2 draw with the Spaniards in Glasgow.

Unbeaten Atletico are second on five points from their opening fixtures.

"We've played well in the three games and the level of performance has been better with each game," said Rodgers.

"We've maybe not had the breaks our football has deserved but the level has increasingly got better.

"We want to keep that going and see if we can take more points out of the next three games.

"The cynics will probably tell us that we've only got one point but for a team likes ourselves it's all about improving that level of confidence and that all comes through performance."

Celtic twice took the lead at home to Atletico during a whirlwind first half, with Rodgers praising his players' "adaptability" in the second period when the 2014 and 2016 finalists exerted more pressure.

"For us, flexibility is important," he said. "We always want to be an aggressive team that looks to play the way we want to play, impose our style, but we know we will have to defend well against a very good side."

Celtic have nine suffered successive defeats in Spain and a tenth would be damaging, with a visit to Lazio and a home match with Feyenoord to come.

"We're not daft," said Rodgers when quizzed on the importance of the Madrid contest. "We know this is a game where we want to get a positive result to take into the final two games."

Team news

Celtic midfielder Reo Hatate will miss the rest of the group stage after sustaining a hamstring injury early on in the reverse fixture.

Having been rested for Saturday's 3-0 victory at Ross County, Matt O'Riley is sure to return to the starting line-up leaving David Turnbull or Paulo Bernardo to fill in for Hatate.

Centre-half Stephen Welsh and winger Liel Abada remain sidelined.

Netherlands forward Memphis Depay is missing for Atletico, Samuel Lino has been out with a knee injury since mid-October, and Thomas Lemar (Achilles) is a long-term absentee.

'Equal respect between Atletico and Celtic'

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone: "It's a very tight group. I think Celtic deserved more against Feyenoord and Lazio. Obviously every team is going to drop points. The two teams that manage to be more consistent will be the ones that qualify for the last 16.

"We know it's going to be a very difficult game. There is equal respect between Atletico and Celtic.

"We know our rival starts games really well, so we will try to do that ourselves. The opponent plays a real high press and they didn't really allow us time to think. We need to be able to play around that.

"There are a lot of people anticipating this game and excitement from the fans and the team. We hope to play a great game and correct what happened against Celtic."

Goals flowing for Griezmann and Morata

Since that draw at Celtic Park, Atletico have beaten Alaves 2-1 - equalling a club record 14 consecutive home victories in La Liga.

But they slipped to a surprise weekend defeat at Las Palmas by the same scorline, in what was just a second loss in 11 league outings this term.

Alvaro Morata, on target in Glasgow, found the net in both of those games taking his club tally for the season to 10.

Fellow forward Antoine Griezmann also scored against Celtic a fortnight ago and has eight goals in his last nine games for Atletico.

Match stats

  • Atletico Madrid remain unbeaten in their seven European meetings with Celtic (W4 D3), winning two of their three home games against the Bhoys (D1).

  • Celtic have lost their last six UEFA Champions League away games against Spanish sides, since a 1-1 draw at Barcelona in their first such match in November 2004. They've conceded 22 goals in these six defeats, including 18 in the last three.

  • Atletico Madrid have avoided defeat in their first three UEFA Champions League games in a single season for the first time since 2019-20 (W1 D2), while they last remained unbeaten in their first four to a campaign in 2016-17 (W4).

  • Celtic have kept just one clean sheet in their last 34 UEFA Champions League games, a 3-0 win at Anderlecht in September 2017. Celtic are winless in their 13 matches in the competition since that victory (D3 L10).

  • Celtic are winless in their last six away games in the UEFA Champions League, with five of those ending in defeat (D1). They last won away from home in the competition in September 2017, in a 3-0 win at Anderlecht in Brendan Rodgers' first spell at the club.

  • Atletico Madrid are unbeaten in their last six home games in the UEFA Champions League (W2 D4), with their last home defeat coming against Milan in November 2021. Indeed, they've only lost three of their 23 overall matches in the competition at the Cívitas Metropolitano (W11 D9).

  • Celtic have had the fewest shots (25) and have the lowest expected goals total (2.27) so far in the UEFA Champions League this season. Atletico Madrid have had the joint-fifth fewest shots this term (31), the Spaniards have the highest shot conversion rate in the competition (19.4%).

  • Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann has scored in his last two appearances in the UEFA Champions League. Despite netting 32 goals in 88 appearances overall, he's never scored in three consecutive games in the competition.

  • Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata has scored three goals in his last two UEFA Champions League games, more than he had in his previous 16 (2). After scoring his first five goals in the competition in the knockout rounds, 18 of his last 20 Champions League strikes have come in the group stages, including his last 11.

  • Kyogo Furuhashi has scored in his last two UEFA Champions League games - the last Celtic player to score in three consecutive appearances in the European Cup/Champions League was Joe Craig in 1977.