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Celtic thrive on trophy expectations

Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic midfielder Stuart Armstrong said the Scottish champions’ hectic schedule means they have little time to reflect upon past failures and successes as they prepare for Sunday’s League Cup final with Motherwell.

The Glasgow giants will have had just three days preparation for Sunday’s show-down with the Steelmen at Hampden following their 7-1 Champions League capitulation to Paris Saint-Germain.

The thrashing in the French capital will have taken a mental and physical toll on the Hoops, who have grown unaccustomed to the feeling of defeat following a 64 match unbeaten domestic run.

However, Scotland international Armstrong says the level of expectation placed on the Celtic players by themselves and the club’s supporters means they will be up for the challenge of securing their fourth successive trophy under manager Brendan Rodgers.

“Life at Celtic is full of expectation. You have to win trophies. You have to win every game,” Armstrong said.

“As a Celtic player you learn to deal with that and that’s part and parcel of playing here.

“We want to bounce back and have a positive result. Football’s all about moving on from game to game and not dwelling too much on what’s just happened.

“In football, if there’s disappointment you have to move on fast. There’s a game every three days for the next month, so we have to move on and be fully focused on the next game. 

“It’ll be tough certainly but we don’t think about past results. Our concern is the League Cup. We’ve had a very good run so far and we’re looking to continue that on Sunday.”

Manager Rodgers kick-started his Celtic career with last season’s 3-0 final defeat of Aberdeen which saw him claim the first trophy of a historic treble winning campaign.

And the Northern Irishman, who has injury doubts to Mikel Lustig and Nir Bitton for Sunday, praised his players for their ability to refocus and their relentless desire to win.

“Whether it was a final or a league game we were coming back to, we’d have had the same focus and energy to go and win,” Rodgers said.

“That’s something we’ve always done here and that’s a great credit to the players. They respect what we do, they understand it and they get over disappointment.

“There’s pressure on us to win every single game and we go into this game with a real focus on doing well and respecting that Motherwell are a team who will fight.”

Celtic will take on a Motherwell side high on confidence after disposing of Aberdeen and Rangers en-route to Hampden.

The sides have yet to face each other this season but Well manager Stephen Robinson says his side will not change their game plan for the showpiece event.

Instead of trying to match the champions, the Northern Irishman said Motherwell will continue to choose a shape that will allow them to take control.

“If we try to play Celtic at their own game and try to out-pass them and outplay them then we’ll get beaten. Simple as that,” Robinson said.

“We have to find a way that suits our personnel and our players and our budget. That’s what we’ve done and we’ve been pretty successful so far at it.

“We’re not going to change that on Sunday. We believe every team have weaknesses so how we play, our strengths and how we set up can cause them problems.”

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