Celtic travel to Ibrox to face Rangers in the first Glasgow Derby of the season. The Scottish Champions fell to a defeat in their last visit back in May but the returning Brendan Rodgers will be keen to re-establish himself as Celtic manager.
A selection of The Celtic Star’s Writers have submitted their pre-match thoughts ahead of the match.
Lubo98 – theRangers 0 Celtic 1
Celtic and Rangers arrive into this game with a degree of trepidation. There will be no trophies won tomorrow but there is an opportunity to lay down a marker against our fierce rivals. The Ibrox club were soundly beaten in Eindhoven and the narrative has switched from Celtic being the crisis club headed into this fixture to being Mick Beale’s D-Day. As much as it is cliched, whoever controls the midfield will win the game. Rangers will likely attempt to use Raskin, Cantwell and Jack/Lundstrum to try stop Celtic from playing. It is important that Rodgers recognises this and picks the team, accordingly.
Editor – theRangers 1 Celtic 3
Strangely Celtic’s poor form in the past few matches where we have failed to hit the back of the net against Kilmarnock and St Johnstone, gives me encouragement for the trip to Ibrox. And watching theRangers defence in midweek against our fellow Champions League qualifiers PSV certainly adds to that optimism. It’s a match that theRangers manager Mick Beale really needs to win as the penny has started to drop that he’s yet to win a crucial match in his ten months in charge, including in all four significant matches against Celtic last season.
These matches were he managed just one draw in a match he had to win together with three defeats ensured that theRangers needed the season with no more than the hastily conceived Sky Sports Summer Bragging Rights Trophy. That dead rubber win, they reckoned, set them up nicely for Sunday’s encounter and with no Celtic supporters present – even theRangers accept that their away corner is unsafe – their support will be roaring them on to attack Celtic.
That might have had more joy against an Ange Postecoglou managed Celtic who would have played their own game regardless, but Brendan Rodgers is likely to sit a bit deeper and utilise the space in behind theRangers defence. Deny them early on and watch the pressure mounting from discontent to outright revolting. It’s a day made for Maeda’s pace and Kyogo’s killer instincts.
We’ll enjoy playing a team that sets out to attack us and discounting extraordinary refereeing and/or VAR interventions as this pairing produced at Rugby Park to knock Celtic out of the League Cup, then I expect Celtic to win 3-1.
Paul Gillespie – theRangers 2 Celtic 3
This one is probably one of the least looked forward to by both sets of supporters in a long time. Neither team looks very good at present and the jury is still very much out on the recruitment side of things. For all the depth added it was criminal that we didn’t address the left-back issue as Greg Taylor looks severely exposed in the traditional full-back role. I expect a high-scoring match.
I also suspect that left-back will be an area that Mick Beale’s side will target with Taylor’s lack of height and pace being of particular concern for Celtic. The opposition will have a debutant to the Glasgow Derby too at left-back, following Borna Barisic’s injury in Eindhoven and that could be fruitful for us. The injuries to our central defenders has been brutal and one can scarcely believe that all three of Cameron Carter-Vickers, Maik Nawrocki and Stephen Welsh are missing for two months or so. I was honestly dreading it at one point before we managed to bring in Nat Phillips from Liverpool.
With his addition, I think that the game could swing back in our favour as their main threat seems to be from set-pieces – using their height to gain an advantage. Phillips’ strongest point is his aerial ability and so that should make some difference when we have to endure spells under the cosh in that atmosphere.
I reckon it will be a scrappy game at times and most probably a race to the bottom. However, I have a feeling one of the new bhoys might have the final say on this occasion and I’m swinging towards Luis Palma coming off the bench for the winner. With Beale running off at the mouth about him after he rejected them, it’s tailor made for him to sink them tomorrow. I think Rodgers will start with Maeda wide-left to counteract Tavernier and his threat from out on the wings until later in the game.
Yug – theRangers 1 Celtic 1
A makeshift central defence with little or no experience of the fixture in front of a full house of you-know-who. A Celtic team in tactical transition. At first glance not so promising. However, Rangers are no great shakes and there is enough in the Celtic team to say that you don’t from a good team to a bad one overnight. We may even get a gift from Comedy Gold-son too ! Apart from the moral victory 2-2 in January there hasn’t even a draw for a while. So a begrudged 1- 1 and move on still top with Pittodrie and Ibrox shelved would not be the end of the world.
Peter Brown – theRangers 1 Celtic 2
I think the game will be reasonably even, with theRangers scoring in the first half, and the Hoops equalising just after half time. I think Celtic will score a late second goal and win the match 2-1.
More Previews and Predictions for other Celtic Star writers to follow in Part 2…