Celtic vs Rangers: Who will win key Old Firm title race clash?

What is the state of play?

Three games to go. Three points the difference. One huge Old Firm clash awaits.

It has been a rollercoaster ride with leaders Celtic and rivals Rangers going head-to-head for top spot in the Scottish Premiership.

However, is the title race almost over or are we set for one more twist?

Saturday 11th May 11:30am

Kick off 12:30pm

A win for Brendan Rodgers’ side on Saturday against Rangers – live on Sky Sports – would see them move six points clear with six to play for, and his side boast a far better goal difference.

However, should Rangers get a first win over their rivals this season the teams would be level on points and Philippe Clement’s side would then have the chance to go top next week when Rangers return to action first.

A home game against Dundee on May 14 awaits the Gers, while Celtic face a tricky trip to Kilmarnock who have taken four points from their last two games against the Hoops, just 24 hours later live on Sky Sports.

It all comes to a dramatic conclusion on May 18 when one of the two teams will be presented with the trophy. Celtic are at home to St Mirren while Rangers are at Hearts.

Who are favourites for the title?

During parts of this season, it really has been impossible to call. However, with just three games to go, it is Celtic’s to lose.

Just a few weeks ago Rodgers ominously said his teams come alive at the business end of the season. He was not wrong.

The former Leicester boss knew his return to Glasgow was not universally welcomed but in October when Rangers sacked Michael Beale and the Hoops were seven points clear at the top – things were looking good.

However, Rangers’ 16-game unbeaten run under Clement saw that gap close and in February as Celtic continued to drop points the Ibrox side moved top for the first time in the season after victory over St Johnstone.

Both clubs went on to lose games in the weeks to come and a month later Celtic were back on top.

Another pulsating Old Firm clash that finished 3-3 followed as the Hoops maintained their unbeaten tag in this fixture and after Rodgers’ side beat St Mirren to go four points clear, another twist came as Rangers lost at Ross County the next day and followed that up with a draw at Dundee.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Rangers and Celtic shared six goals in an epic match at Ibrox

Celtic have taken 16 out of a possible 18 points in recent weeks – the only dropped points coming in that Ibrox draw – while Rangers have picked up just 11 in that same six-game period.

While some of the current Rangers squad have a 2021 league title to their name – most of Celtic’s squad can boast multiple medals and are being led by a manager who won an invincible treble among his back-to-back league top-flight triumphs during his last spell in Glasgow.

Brendan Rodgers won two league titles during his first spell as Celtic manager
Brendan Rodgers won two league titles during his first spell as Celtic manager

Experience counts and so does handling pressure – especially in the Glasgow goldfish bowl where the pressure is always on.

Right now it looks like Celtic are winning that battle and are well placed to retain the title – but good luck if you want to predict exactly how things will play out from here.

Sutton: Clement feeling pressure | Boyd: Rangers must improve

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Philippe Clement responds to Brendan Rodgers’ ‘have some fun’ comments ahead of Saturday’s Old Firm clash live on Sky Sports

As if Saturday’s match wasn’t big enough – there has been some extra spice added after Clement accused Rodgers of disrespecting his side last weekend.

Speaking after victory over Hearts, the Celtic boss said the Hoops “can have a bit of fun” against their rivals but the Belgian was not impressed.

“It’s not really respectful towards my team,” he said. “That is what I think. So I will never say things like that about an opponent.

“We are really hungry for that game. Six months ago we were seven points behind and now we are three points behind and we can go equal. The team has already done a lot of steps and now it is about making the next step.”

In an interview with Sky Sports after the win over Kilmarnock, Clement was asked if Rangers would need to step it up again if they are to beat Celtic and added: “I don’t know about improvement as it is a totally different game.

“But I hear yesterday that they are going to have fun, so we will have fun also.”

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Brendan Rodgers looks ahead to Saturday’s game against Rangers after their 3-0 victory over Hearts

After the exchange, former Celtic striker Chris Sutton believes Clement’s reaction is proof he is feeling the heat in the title race.

“Brendan’s got under his skin,” said the Sky Sports pundit. “When he [Clement] first came in, he was calm and composed – but he’s feeling the pressure.”

Former Rangers striker Kris Boyd added on Sky Sports: “Rodgers came out with it first, but you get the feeling he’s trying to win over the Celtic fans, appeasing them. A lot of them weren’t happy when he came back at first.

“He’s said some things right from the beginning. Let the fun begin!”

Turning attention to matters on the pitch, Boyd added: “There is going to be a big improvement against Celtic, there has to be.

“Rangers had a bad start, were excellent in the middle and they’ve fallen away in the last few weeks. Can they bounce back?

“Celtic have been the opposite – a good start, a bit in the middle where they huffed and puffed, and now they’ve gone again. It’s going to be a huge game, there’s no doubt about that.

“If Rangers are going to get anything they have to go there with that confidence and belief they can do it. But it’s not going to be easy.”

Sutton added: “The Rangers players will think Sunday was about getting the job done. Everyone knows about how big the game is on Saturday, they have to get their heads around it.

“I think we know how it’s going to pan out, Rangers will be quite direct. That midfield area is going to be the key, and Celtic against Hearts had their big three in there, playing well, and will take great confidence.

“But it’s difficult to predict because what have we seen this season? Both teams have shown their inconsistency in periods.”

Why there’s more than just a trophy at stake

Luis Palma fired Celtic in front from the penalty spot
Celtic were in the Champions League group stage this season after winning the title

You might think it means pride here – and yes there is that. However, Champions League football is also up for grabs with this season’s league winners guaranteed a group-stage spot and big prize money: over £40m.

However, due to the UEFA coefficient rankings, it will be the last season an automatic spot is up for grabs for Scottish clubs for some time.

Rangers' Cyriel Dessers celebrates with Abdallah Sima as he scores to make it 2-1 vs Real Betis
Rangers got to the Europa League last 16 this season

That is because Scotland has fallen out of the top 10 in UEFA’s coefficient rankings which means next season’s league winners will need to play a play-off to enter the group stages, while second place face three qualifying rounds.

Then from 2026/27, it gets even worse with just one spot for the league winner who will likely face three qualifying rounds.

It is all to play for, not just for silverware but also European football and a chance to mix it with some of the greats once again.

Book Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk

It’s one of the biggest sporting events in a generation. Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk collide for the undisputed world heavyweight championship on Saturday May 18, live on Sky Sports Box Office. Book the fight now.

Ad content | Stream Sky Sports on NOW

Watch Premier League, F1, SPFL, Tennis and more on Sky Sports with NOW
Watch Scottish Premiership, Premier League, F1, Tennis and more on Sky Sports with NOW

Stream Sky Sports live with no contract on a Month or Day membership on NOW. Instant access to live action from the Scottish Premiership, Premier League, EFL, F1 and so much more.

Find out more here…

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top