Who will emerge victorious when a Rangers side with the ‘pressure off’ meet a Celtic side in hopes of ‘putting the fans back on the line’ in this weekend’s Scottish Cup clash in Ibrox?
Former Celtic forward Andy Walker and former Rangers striker Kris Boyd join Ian Crocker for this week’s Scottish football podcast to discuss Sunday’s fourth round match and what it means for both teams.
Steven Gerrard’s Rangers can come close to a Championship and Cup double with the win, which would put them three games away from doing so 12 years after winning the Scottish Cup trophy for the last time.
For a Celtic side without a permanent manager and having been humiliated by their greatest Scottish Premiership rivals, the game offers their last hope of winning silverware in 2020/21 – as well as a chance to have one on the Rangers for the first time. this season.
‘Pressure on Rangers – but Celtic owe the fans’
After dropping just 10 points all season in the Scottish Premiership and reaching the last 16 in the Europa League, Rangers have nothing to prove in the rest of the campaign, Walker told the podcast, adding the pressure was on the Celtic to cause upheaval. in Ibrox and keep their own season alive.
He said: “Rangers have been by far the best team in the country this season. Celtic have improved their level of performance against them, I really liked the way that [Mohamed] Elyounoussi and [Odsonne] Edward tied the knot in the last game at Celtic Park, but previously Rangers made a number on Celtic.
“I know Celtic had a good 45 minutes at Ibrox when he lost 1-0, but all questions need to be asked by Celtic. Rangers have done it this season, the pressure is low, they are obviously very confident of having achieved the title of champion, and they will want to make a double.
“Steven Gerrard will put it all in the game this weekend; whoever wins will obviously be the big favorite to go on and lift the trophy.”
Walker added that a cup victory would not make up for Celtic’s poor league and Europe performance this season, but that his former team owed their fans something to cheer on – and could be strengthened if James Forrest is. fit to return after sustaining an injury against Livingston. Last weekend.
He said: “What I liked about the first 45 minutes of the recent Old Firm game was this bond between Edouard and Elyounoussi. There was a bit of understanding there, maybe something that Celtic is working.
I think both are certainties to start the game, I think [David] Turnbull will play, it will be interesting to see if Forrest gets rid of the injury he suffered last weekend, he starts to start the games and his pace and his understanding of the role he plays for the team, i think Celtic missed it. The other experienced players missed having him in a very good team.
“Celtic owe a great performance to their supporters, and there is nowhere better to do so than this weekend at Ibrox. It wouldn’t right the wrongs, but it would give hope that things could. new change. We are all aware of the magnitude of the problem. personnel change that is going to occur. “
Best Celtic team in the country? ‘I didn’t understand that’
Celtic interim manager John Kennedy said ahead of this weekend’s game that his side are still the best in the country despite their difficult year on the pitch.
Boyd, who won the Scottish Cup twice as a player in 2007/08 and 2008/09, questioned the manager’s thinking – and said whoever wins the trophy this season will get a warm-up perfect for the next campaign.
“I didn’t get the comments, to be honest, being the best in the country – 20 points behind in the table,” he said.
“Yes, there are a bit of mind games before the Scottish Cup game, but the ultimate goal is the league, and that was sewn together months ago. For Celtic, it has been a very disappointing season. , without a doubt, but you are still looking for the Scottish Cup.
“I’ve always said you win the league but to play the Scottish Cup on the last day of the season, go this summer with a winner’s medal around your neck, after you lift the trophy, that’s a great thing .. It prepares you for the next season, you always look forward to it.
“Sunday’s game is huge, clear and simply because Celtic have been miles away from it. They will see it as an opportunity to rally some fans and a bit of positivity, with season tickets to be renewed, and the kick-off. dispatch for next season.
“A lot of people would have expected this Rangers team to cut back on their tools, with four league games to go undefeated in the league, I imagine that’s something Steven Gerrard will want to do too. who will go on and win this. will win it all. “
Follow the build and live coverage of Rangers vs Celtic with our live blog on digital platforms Sky Sports starting at 2pm Sunday; kick off at 3 p.m.