ONE of Brendan Rodgers’ core beliefs is that the language of football is universal. That good players, those on a certain wavelength, will automatically be attuned to others.

Throughout his coaching career, he has then given these players a freedom to express themselves on the pitch, and his teams have reaped the rewards.

At Liverpool, Leicester City and now at Celtic, Rodgers has always had certain players who seem to link up telepathically, partnerships that have proven almost impossible for the opposition to live with.

The latest of those, between Matt O’Riley and Kyogo Furuhashi, has already been shown to be devastatingly effective even at the very top level, best evidenced by the sumptuous opening goal they fashioned against Atletico Madrid in the 2-2 draw at Celtic Park, slicing open a defence that has long been known as one of the meanest on the continent.

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Rodgers could well have claimed that goal as a training ground move entirely of his design, but he credits the players for their improvisation in the heat of the moment, and for having the ability to execute it on such a stage.

It was proof, he feels, of the level both men are capable of operating at. And he says that the double act, with O’Riley as provider and Kyogo as devastating finisher, is up there with any he has managed before.

“I had James Maddison and Jamie Vardy who were similar,” Rodgers said.

“(Phillip) Coutinho with (Daniel) Sturridge or (Luis) Suarez was similar.

“If you watch James (Maddison) play, James always needs a connection with someone in front of him, he needs runners.

“You watch him now when he takes the ball, he’s got Son who he will feed and find, and for me it was Jamie Vardy. He was great, he would just take a touch, Jamie was away and he would make the pass for him.

“I think good players find each other, they have those solutions, and you could see with those two right early on, those little link passes that they play allows you to progress the game.

“It’s a wee bit of everything really. You make patterns on the training field and you are guided by the intelligence of the players as well. It’s improvisation, game intelligence.

“It’s one thing doing it under no pressure but another seeing it in the game and making the right decisions. It’s a combination of everything. The relationship between training and the game is important.

“It’s the calmness, the courage to play. Sometimes I’ve seen maybe the lesser teams at that level against a bigger team and they look nervous on the ball, but we were very assured [that night] and had authority in our football.

“The move was absolutely brilliant, and we had another couple of great moves in the game that didn’t quite have the last pass, but the goal…how we sped up the game around the final third is what you want to see.”

The return game in Madrid is one that all at Celtic will want to forget, but in a general sense, the calmness that Rodgers references that he is trying to instil into his team has been evident in attacking areas at points within their Champions League campaign, exemplified in the change in Kyogo from last season.

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There were question marks around whether or not Celtic’s star striker was cut out for Europe’s premier club competition at the outset, owing to a number of chances that he had snatched at during the previous campaign under Ange Postecoglou.

But with his calm finish against Lazio and that goal against Atletico at Celtic Park, he has shown that he has taken heed of the lessons from last term, and also the promptings of his manager.

“I think it’s about trying not to force it,” Rodgers said. “[I told him] it will come.

“I said to him, ‘You’re a good player, it will come. But when it comes, you’ve got to take it. And recognise that you’re not going to get as many chances maybe [as you do in the Scottish Premiership], but stay calm when you get there, don’t rush it or force it’.

“It was a great finish [against Atletico], He’s had a couple of great finishes now, and that one there, it was a wonderful combination and a perfect weight of pass from Matt. But a wonderful finish.

“And against a back line of five which is really hard to break through, so, really good.”