The season’s first Glasgow derby is just around the corner and fans of both Celtic and Rangers are loading their guns to have a go at each other come this Saturday.
In spite of the supporters not being allowed to be physically present inside Celtic Park on the afternoon to witness the madness, there will be no hiatus to the rivalry outside the stadium.
The Bhoys have had the lion’s share of success against their bitter rivals of late and there is hardly any reason to believe that the particular trend will discontinue at the weekend.
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard might have brought in as many as eight players over the course of the summer – most of them having loads of experience in the game – yet they lack the passion, vision and experience needed to triumph in a Glasgow derby.
Celtic have come away triumphant in three of their last five meetings against Rangers and haven’t lost any of their last five Glasgow derby cup encounters, giving them that much-needed psychological advantage ahead of Saturday’s game.
Following some early jitters in the premier European competition – the Champions League, Celtic have found their rhythm and are currently on an eight-game unbeaten run, heading to the game against Rangers at the Paradise.
A win on Saturday will help them leapfrog their eternal rivals into first place with a game in hand, thus serving as further motivation for the Celtic players on the pitch. But Celtic hardly need to be motivated when it comes to the Glasgow derby, do they?
So, what makes Celtic the favourites beat Rangers and grab the bragging rights? Read on to find out.
#1 Celtic have several leaders
Scott Brown, who is lovingly called ‘Broony’ by his team-mates and the Celtic fans, is not the only leader the Bhoys have. They have leaders almost everywhere on the pitch, thus giving them an added advantage heading into any game.
In Shane Duffy, they have added Premier League experience to their ranks. The 28-year-old obviously knows the finer nuances of the game and can obviously give his team-mates a piece of his mind if he feels the need for it.
One often tends to overlook the contribution of Callum McGregor towards the success of the team. The academy graduate has been through thick and thin and knows what it takes to make the club successful.
Another Celtic player who falls in the same category is 29-year-old James Forrest. Since his debut for the senior side back in 2010, Forrest has featured in many such derbies, and in spite of him not featuring that heavily for the Hoops this season, Neil Lennon might turn to his senior pro when Rangers visit on Saturday.
These Celtic stars know all about handling pressure, having featured in several crunch derbies over the course of their careers, and could turn out to be the game changers this Saturday.
#2 Settled game-changers with few good additions
Celtic brought in five new players over the course of the summer in order to strengthen the areas where the manager felt more attention was needed. In addition, they made Southampton agree on a deal to send Mohamed Elyounoussi back to the Paradise after a successful loan spell last season.
Apart from that, Celtic have a well-settled squad which is used to winning. Players such as Nir Bitton, Kristoffer Ajer, Odsonne Edouard are known for turning a game on its head, which essentially means that even if a particular player fails to deliver on a particular day, others one can step up to back him up.
Neil Lennon’s side have shown character in waiting until the very end to score goals and win matches this season, and there is no reason to believe they can’t do it again if the situation demands on Saturday.
#3 Celtic’s added motivation to make it ten-in-a-row
The current Celtic side are on the brink of writing their name in the history books by winning ten Scottish Premiership titles in a row. They have won nine until now and the fact that they have beaten their bitter rivals Rangers five times to it makes the feat even more special.
The urge to make it ten will be a huge one, giving Neil Lennon’s players that added motivation as they head into Saturday’s game.
Even the most naïve of Scottish football follower knows that Rangers are the only serious challengers to the Bhoys’ title quest, and a win at the weekend can set the tone for the rest of the season.
Although only time will tell what is in store for us on derby day, all possibilities suggest that in spite of Celtic Park remaining empty, the match will live up to the expectation.