Matt O’Riley’s only experience of losing to theRangers came in the Scottish Cup semi-final last April when Bobby Madden dictated the manner in which the game would be played in the knowledge that that would be it for his time with the whistle in Scottish football.
“We lost last year which obviously wasn’t great but this is a new year and we are a completely different team so we will see,” the Celtic midfielder said ahead of today’s semi-final against the latest Ibrox club to determine who will play Inverness Cayley Thistle in the final on Saturday 3rd June.
One thing that now makes Glasgow Derby matches at Hampden stand out is that both sets of supporters are there in numbers, a situation that now does not occur in the league games at Celtic Park and Ibrox due to the toys out the pram antics in theRangers boardroom.
“I was not here when opposition fans were allowed in at Celtic Park and Ibrox but from what I have heard it was impressive so yeah, I am looking forward to there being an equal split on Sunday,” O’Riley said.
“I like playing (the)Rangers especially up here, so I think getting to play them more than two times a season is pretty cool. It is a game that brings so much to the players and the fans in terms of the whole atmosphere it creates so that is a big positive.
“Playing the same team two or three teams in the space of six weeks must be unique. You get to know them pretty well and the way they play pretty well. Of course, the same will apply for them.
“One of the most enjoyable things about the derbies is the way each one throws up different challenges so I don’t think it matters too much,” Matt O’Riley said, as reported by Glasgow Times.
Todd Cantwell and Nicolas Raskin are the big hopes for theRangers fans although neither were particularly impressive in the recent encounter at Parkhead where the Hoops won 3-2.
“Everyone at both our clubs is going to be a good player,” Matt O’Riley stated. “I am not going to sit here and say they are not good players but at the same time, I think we have the quality we need to put in a good performance and win the game.
“Although I have not seen them as much as their fans will have, I am sure Raskin and Cantwell will both be good players.”
Earlier this week O’Riley’s former manager Russell Martin was praising his former player who has been a huge success at Celtic. Asked about this O’Riley said: “I came from MK Dons, a club which has fans but not near the level of support we get here so the first game was definitely a shock to the system in terms of how loud it all was.
“But it was very cool experience and one I have definitely got used to now. The move was probably most about what was right for me at that particular moment but certain decisions take you to certain places and I have ended up in a really good place.
“I get to play in front of some of the loudest fans in the world now which is definitely cool. It is working out well.
“I do my best to keep in regular touch with the ones who are good friends of mine. A couple of guys from MK, but not so many at Fulham now.
“Like I said, it was a big change for me both in terms of the playing levels and the surroundings. The atmosphere at Celtic is not something any of them would be used to simply because I wasn’t used to it either.
“So yeah, they follow the games and I am sure they think if Matt can do well and progress in the game to get to a good place then maybe we can do the same.”
Performing so well at Celtic will do O’Riley’s international aspirations with Denmark no harm at all but the midfielder recognises the scale of the task facing him to break into that talented team.
Morten Wieghorst, the former Celtic midfielder, is the Assistant Manager for the Denmark national side and he insists that O’Riley ending this season as a champion gives the 22-year-old every chance of becoming a regular in the International squad.
“My level was good earlier in the season too but at the same time winning trophies, and hopefully I do, signifies you being a winner.
“From there the hope would be that would be a quality the international dressing room might like to add to their team. If the call comes, I definitely will not be saying no.
“I have been lucky enough to train with them a couple of times and Morten Wieghorst, and the manager too has only ever been nice to me when we have spoken.
“The Denmark midfield is one of their strong assets which is a good thing in terms of healthy competition but it would not be easy to break into.”