Benchwarmer to play key role: Three things to expect from Celtic against Rangers
COMMENT By Matt Farr
Celtic visit Ibrox on Saturday for the sixth and final Old Firm derby clash of the season, looking to maintain their unbeaten record in all competitions.
The Hoops recorded a 2-0 victory over Rangers in the Scottish Cup semi final as recently as a week ago, but the attention now turns to beating their rivals on their home turf.
They have four wins and a draw from their five meetings with Rangers in all competitions this season, a record they hope will remain untarnished come the final whistle on Saturday.
Here, Football Insider reveals three things to expect from Celtic against Rangers at Ibrox.
26-year-old to send a message
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Celtic were dealt a crushing blow to their domestic treble ambitions when star goalscorer Moussa Dembele limped off before half-time against Rangers on Saturday.
Dembele could miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury, but Celtic have a quality alternative in Leigh Griffiths.
The 26-year-old has spent much of the campaign warming the bench, but will be determined to send a message out to Brendan Rodgers in the absence of his team-mate.
Rangers will be vulnerable defensively, and a goal or two from Griffiths could go a long way to reminding Rodgers just what he is capable of, and that Celtic need not rely on Dembele. Expect him to play a key role.
A near perfect disciplinary record
The greatest Old Firm derbies in living memory have provided such feistiness, and came with the guarantee of a fiery encounter and the customary yellow, or even red card.
However, the contest has been so one-sided of late that Celtic could easily come away from the tie at Ibrox with few bookings to their name. They may well pick up a few, but there won’t be any 22-man brawls.
The Celtic players will understand the weight of the occasion, and the necessity to perform on the big-stage, but there may be no need for them to make any rash challenges at all.
Celtic were hardly made to break a sweat at Hampden on Sunday in winning back possession as they had the majority of the ball themselves, and if Rangers don’t have possession, then there is no need for Celtic to be flying in with any wild, or reckless, challenges.
Even at Ibrox, there will be doubts as to how much control Rangers will have over proceedings, but it could easily end up a one-sided affair.
All the pressure will be on Rangers. They are the ones that are chasing a 33-point gap, and they are the ones that are looking to redeem themselves.
Celtic can therefore, just play their natural game. They have nothing to lose, since the title is already won. Another win over Rangers will comes as an added bonus, as will another domestic game without defeat.
It will be difficult to envisage Rangers going on to win the game. They could snatch a draw, but they have been performing far from Celtic’s level, and can’t match them over 90 minutes.
The pendulum in the battle for dominance in Glasgow this season will still swing the way of Celtic this weekend – you can be assured of that.
In other Celtic news, here is how the away side will be expected to line up on Saturday.