Rosenborg present a real threat to O'Neill

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The Independent Online

Martin O'Neill and Paul Lambert have reached the summit of European glory before, so few are better equipped to bring Celtic back down to earth before the attempt to climb another Champions' League mountain tonight.

Celtic's manager and captain both got their hands on the European Cup, with Nottingham Forest and Borussia Dortmund respectively, so neither is swayed by one night of passion even if O'Neill did describe the Parkhead arena that Rosenborg will enter for the re-scheduled encounter as "electric."

A fortnight ago, 56,000 fans made up for years in the wilderness by roaring the Scottish champions to a 1-0 victory against Porto in their first-ever Champions' League at home. The setting was just like the old days, when Celtic embraced the famous trophy themselves.

However, O'Neill insists that it is the expectation rather than the decibel levels which will determine whether Celtic will be in with a shout of reaching the next phase. Though victory against the Norwegians would be a huge step towards that target, the manager feels his supporters are not carried away by the Porto success or the showing against Juventus.

"I can't speak for 60,000 people coming to the game," O'Neill reflected yesterday, "but I would be amazed if they thought we would win games in this tournament easily.

"Anyway, that's not the view I've picked up from the fans. They are concerned, like me. Rosenborg are capable of getting results away from home, as they have proved, which is why their record is superior to ours. Rosenborg know they will get the utmost respect from us."

O'Neill was not just dusting down his Northern Irish coyness. The Norwegian side have built their reputation on epic wins at the San Siro against Milan and last season at Dortmund.

"Everyone knows their track record in the Champions' League but winning 3-0 at Dortmund was almost unheard of," said Lambert.

"I wish you could show me an easy team in this section – there are none. The players know we have to earn the right to win and I think the crowd appreciate that when a European team comes, it is different from domestic football."

O'Neill will be restored to the dugout tonight, after his Uefa exile in the stand a fortnight ago. "The players said the atmosphere against Porto was electric and obviously we want to reach the next stage.

"But Rosenborg showed renewed determination to get a draw against Juventus and they might feel they now have to register a win to keep up their qualification hopes."

That philosophy will apply most to Harald Brattbakk. The striker returns to Parkhead, where he only netted 20 times during three seasons following his £2.8m transfer in 1997, before moving back home.

"Harald will never be forgotten by the fans here for the goal he scored which won us the title in 1998," recalled Lambert. "He scored a lot of Champions' League goals in his first spell with Rosenborg and he's still a dangerous player."

Celtic (probable 3-5-2): Douglas; Mjallby, Balde, Valgaeren or Tebily; Agathé, Lambert, Lennon, Petrov, Thompson; Sutton, Larsson.

Rosenborg (probable 4-3-3): Arason; Basma, Hoftun, Enerly, Saarinen; Berg, Skammelsrund, Strand; Brattbakk, Rushfeldt, F Johnsen.

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