Time To Pile On The Pressure

There’s little I can write about our Champions League campaign that has not already been said. Ange Postecoglou summarised the European campaign to date quite well today. We all know where our shortcomings are, what Ange’s vision is and exactly how many chances we created… and missed. That’s just the first step into Champions League football under this manager, and hopefully we can make incremental improvements over the coming years. For now, attention turns back to the domestic season.

Celtic have an opportunity to pile pressure on theRangers tomorrow. We had a rare chance to do so last week, and took it by the skin of our teeth when Giakoumakis rescued three points in the final minute. Now, the fixture list has given us the chance to stretch our lead to five points again, with the team in second not set to play until Sunday.

Last week, theRangers responded well with an easy victory over St Mirren to close the gap again. However, they seem to take confidence from any time we stutter or dip in our performance levels. Maybe they think they can smell blood. I’d speculate that the psychology has changed a little going into this round of games. The Ibrox club have been demoralised by a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of a mid table English club. Meanwhile, Celtic have mild disappointment in comparison – and can certainly be pleased with large parts of their performance over RB Leipzig. Indeed, we should have been two or three goals up at half time.

Celtic have a few injury problems. McGregor, Jota, Welsh and Turnbull are unavailable; but we still have an abundance of talent ready to go. James Forrest looks rejuvenated, Liel Abada has been declared fit to play, Haksabanovic is coming into form, and a host of other key players are set to start. In other words, we should be able to cope.

Matches at Paradise in domestic competitions should be very tough for any opponent. Looking to get back to winning ways and silence the media critics, Celtic are likely to turn in a strong performance. If we play like we did against Leipzig then that should be more than enough to win against Hibernian. No disrespect to the Hibees, it’s just a fact that they’re a different level of opponent compared to Leipzig, and the financial gap between ourselves and Hibs is probably as wide as it is between ourselves and Leipzig.

We have a real opportunity to go out on the front foot, restore confidence in front of goal and stretch our lead at the top. If we do so, then theRangers will know that only three points will suffice at Fir Park on Sunday. Their fans will be low on tolerance after the midweek demolition, and they have a number of central defenders injured – with Davies and Goldson added to the growing list of absentees for them. They may come out defiant, or they may crumble. Our job is to put the pressure on and test them.

Let’s take care of business tomorrow and have some positivity in the Celtic camp.

About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up on the English south coast with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. I have written four Celtic books since the age of 19: Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support, Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys: Celtic's Founding Fathers, First Season & Early Stars, and The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest. These were previously sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are now available on Amazon.

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