Celtic have proved they can compete in Champions League - Craig Gordon

Craig Gordon
Craig Gordon looks on as Barcelona celebrate their second goal in the 2-0 win at Celtic Park
Scottish League Cup final: Aberdeen v Celtic
Date: Sunday, 27 November Venue: Hampden Park Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Craig Gordon says Celtic have proved they are not inferior to the elite clubs in the Champions League.

The goalkeeper says his team have learned valuable lessons which they can carry into their domestic form and next year's European qualifying campaign.

He is adamant, though, that Celtic have shown their worth in the competition, despite finishing bottom of Group C.

"Our performances have been good enough. We can compete at this level," Gordon, 33 said.

"There's nothing I've seen in any of the games that suggest we're inferior to anyone else in our group."

Celtic began their campaign with a 7-0 defeat away to Barcelona before drawing 3-3 at home to Manchester City. They followed that with a 2-0 loss and a 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach before Wednesday's 2-0 defeat by Barcelona.

"We didn't pick up enough points, but the performances were good and if we can add to that and continue to progress as a group, we can do better next season," Gordon added.

"We've played some really top quality teams you would expect to go quite far in the competition. We were probably a little unfortunate in how strong the group was, but they were great games to play in.

"We've definitely improved as the campaign's gone on and we've been a real test for the teams we've come up against. You always test yourself against the best players and at times we've done very well against them.

"That gives you confidence to know that you're able to mix it with some of the best teams in the world and do well. We can take that on as a team and build on that."

'I've never given up'

Celtic's home defeat by Barcelona on Wednesday ensured they will finish fourth in Group C regardless of what happens in their final group game at Manchester City on 6 December.

The Spanish side will join City in the knockout rounds, while Borussia Monchengladbach drop into the Europa League.

Gordon impressed against Barcelona, with one brilliant save to deny Luis Suarez the result of working on a specific ploy in training with goalkeeping coach Stevie Woods.

He has fought his way back into the starting line-up after being dropped for Dorus de Vries earlier in the season, but having recovered from a career-threatening injury in the past, Gordon is not fazed by the challenges the game sometimes presents.

Craig Gordon
Gordon expects a tough test against Aberdeen at Hampden

"You never give up, you've got to keep fighting, whether it's another player in front of you in the pecking order or injury," he says.

"I like to think I've never given up, I take on the challenges and try to overcome them. There will probably be more before I've finished my career, but I'll just keep fighting and doing as much as I can to stay in the team."

Brendan Rodgers' side remain unbeaten in domestic football and will compete for the first trophy of the season on Sunday when they face Aberdeen at Hampden in the final of the Betfred Cup, with Celtic having won both of this season's league encounters with the Dons.

"They've both been very close games," Gordon said. "Even at Celtic Park, the [4-1] scoreline was probably a little bit flattering towards us, so we know it's going to be very tough.

"We know the style of play and the players they have, but it's another thing stopping them. They have good qualities and we will have to be at our very best to make sure we're containing that but going ahead to try to dominate the game and win the match."

'Celtic will get better after playing the best'

Stuart Armstrong was ineligible and had to watch from the stands when Celtic last lifted the League Cup, having just joined the club from Dundee United in 2015. The midfielder has every chance of starting Sunday's game, having played his way into Rodgers' first XI in recent weeks.

He lined up alongside Scott Brown in central midfield against Barcelona, and Armstrong believes the Scottish champions can benefit from the experience of facing the Spanish side.

"A team like Barcelona have quality all over the field, and they showed that in the way they pass their way out of trouble, the way they move the ball, the speed, everything about them was top quality," Armstrong said. "But I felt we matched them and can be pleased with some parts of our play.

Stuart Armstrong
Armstrong says playing in the Champions League will improve Celtic as a team

"The way they press the game and move the ball is something we would like to emulate. Our pressing game is something that has been particularly positive this season and our work ethic and relentlessness in every single game has been good to see.

"Playing against the best, in the Champions League, is going to improve you as a player and help you learn.

"We learned to compete with the best, patterns of play and how to overcome different situations against top quality players. The [draws] against Man City at home and Gladbach away were very good performances and perhaps ties we could have taken more from.

"The attraction of coming to Celtic is to play in Europe and in cup finals. As a footballer, you want to win things and accomplish things. If we can get off to winning ways on Sunday and win the cup, I'll be very happy."

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