BRENDAN Rodgers believes his team are “piecing together” attributes and qualities that will allow them to cope and thrive in a Champions League environment.

Ahead of the away match with Borussia Monchengladbach last year, the Celtic manager spoke about a three-year plan to get the Scottish champions into the last 16 of Europe’s top competition. Season one ended at the group stages with three draws and three defeats at the first attempt.

Now, less than a year on from that exit, the side that last season was domestically invincible, is already looking like a force marching ever closer to the Champions League proper. A 6-0 aggregate win over Linfield was almost a training exercise given the ease in which the Northern Irish were swept aside and, next up is a Rosenborg team still caught in the shadows of their former glories.

“For us, I’m really happy now that when we send out the team they’ve got a real good tactical idea of what they’re doing,” said Rodgers ahead of Wednesday’s first leg at home. “You know they understand the game – the technique and the vision of the game is becoming much better.

“We’re starting to piece together the qualities that are needed to play in the Champions League, which are speed, power and technique.

“It will be a tough game next week and the one away will be as well. It’s important that we try and get a lead here if we can to take into the second leg.

“The players are understanding it better now, and with the positioning of the players inside, they can circulate the ball with confidence, knowing that because of their fitness they’ll hopefully come through in the end.

“We won’t be perfect this year, it’s a gradual thing, but the more we work together, the more the players will get confident.”

Rodgers experimented on Wednesday night against Linfield, opting for a back three of Mikael Lustig, Jozo Simunovic and Kieran Tierney with Scott Brown dropping deeper when necessary. While a risky tactic if deployed in the group stages, the system allowed extra bodies to play between the lines of a deep-lying stuffy defence to create holes for Celtic’s play-makers to move in to.

“I just try to get as many lines on the pitch as possible,” said the Celtic manager. “It’s dependent on the game. Against a team like Linfield, and we’ll see it in the Scottish Premiership as well, you have to try to disorganise their back four.

“Sometimes having two up can do that, just depending on where your wingers and midfielders are. We’re trying to find different structures in the team that can help, but it has to be fluent, that’s the key.

“Sometimes when those two have played together they’ve made the same runs. They’re similar types of player who want to be in the box. Sometimes the fluency is broken when the two play together. But it’s my job, and the coaches’ job, to say ‘can we find a way?’ If not, we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing.”