If you go on to the internet and look up ‘World Football Derbies’, you will find that a Celtic v Rangers clash is right up there in very good company. There can be little doubt that Scottish football is not too highly regarded throughout the world but the particular stresses that mark out a Glasgow Derby clash are recognised everywhere.
And they are stressful, both for players and spectators, indeed any supporter watching throughout the world. As a player, in the days leading up to them, every single person you come across tells you how important a win is; the press cover it all week – sometimes to over-saturation – and fans feed off the coverage; and nowadays, of course, there is also huge coverage on radio and TV, not to mention social media.
This particular Scottish Cup match is an unusual one, as Celtic are streets ahead in several ways. They are ahead in the league table, they have better players, they have the money to bring in more stars, they have a permanent manager as opposed to an interim one and they are used to winning trophies in recent years.
So, does that mean that I think Celtic will win easily? No, it does not work like that.
Earlier in the week, I thought that Manchester City had a real chance of coming back against Liverpool. They did get an early goal but after that? And what about Barcelona? Were they not useless against Roma? And why? The reason in both cases is the same. Too few of the players in these sides turned up for the occasion, ready to fight and put a shift in. That is the important factor in any big football match and will be crucial on Sunday.
If every performer in a green-and-white shirt rises to the challenge and gives his all, then the result is not in doubt. But if there are a few who are slightly off-from then…..who knows?
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