Rangers vs Celtic: Preview and Prediction

More than bragging rights will be on the line when Rangers take on Celtic in the Old Firm Derby this Sunday.

Scottish giants and arch-rivals Rangers and Celtic are set to clash at the Ibrox in what could be a pivotal Old Firm derby that decides where the Scottish title ends up this season. Starting the weekend in second place, Rangers have an opportunity to gain ground as they face off against Celtic, who have won both previous encounters this season.

This season’s title race in Scotland has been one of the most captivating in recent memory, with the big two having shown signs of weaknesses. Heading into the weekend, Celtic lead the standings with 74 points, just one ahead of Rangers, who have a decisive game in hand.

A win for Rangers coupled with a victory over Dundee United in their upcoming match would put them in a commanding position, potentially opening up a five-point lead with only six games remaining. Doing so will add another feather to the cap of Rangers boss, Philippe Clement.

The prospect of losing all three matches against Celtic this season looms, a situation not seen in two decades. Brendan Rodgers’s impressive track record with Celtic, having secured 12 victories out of 15 matches against Rangers, further boosts the visitors’ confidence.

As the teams gear up for this crucial fixture, the stakes could not be higher. Anything less than a win will not do for Celtic while Rangers could retain the upper hand as long as they avoid defeat. Ibrox will lack any Celtic fans on the night, making it a cauldron spurring the home team on. It will not be amiss to claim that this is arguably the most unpredictable of Old Firm Derbies in recent times. The Hard Tackle takes a look at how both sides could line up for the game and their tactics.

Team News & Tactics


Manager Philippe Clement faces a selection dilemma at left-back, with both Ridvan Yilmaz and Dujon Sterling back from injury. However, Borna Barisic’s superior match fitness may give him the nod given the importance of the game.

Abdallah Sima’s potential return to the starting lineup for Rangers is also eagerly anticipated, having made a promising cameo off the bench last weekend against Hibs following his injury layoff since January 2.

The Gers will be buzzing despite their poor record against Celtic this season and will aim to secure their first title since 2021. Clement is likely to retain his 4-2-3-1 formation, with English veteran Jack Butland in goal.

He should be protected by the back four of James Tavernier, Connor Goldson, John Souttar, and Ridvan Yilmaz. Mohamed Diomande and John Lundstram should form the double pivot and will hope to seize control of the middle of the park on the night.

Scott Wright and Fabio Silva should provide the width, while former Norwich City man Todd Cantwell should reprise his role at number 10. Cyriel Dessers will hope to continue his good form and will start upfront, aiming to catch the Celtic defenders off guard.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Butland; Tavernier, Goldson, Souttar, Yilmaz; Diomande, Lundstram; Sima, Cantwell, Fabio Silva; Dessers

Rangers vs Celtic: Preview and Prediction.


Celtic’s squad has received a significant boost with the return of Reo Hatate and Cameron Carter-Vickers from recent setbacks, positioning them to start in the upcoming match.

In addition, there’s anticipation surrounding the potential comeback of captain Callum McGregor, who has recuperated from injury and may feature for the first time since the emphatic 7-1 victory over Dundee.

However, the absence of Luis Palma due to a leg injury is a setback for the team. Nevertheless, Nicolas-Gerrit Kuhn has been in stellar form since stepping up, evidenced by his impactful performance with a goal and an assist in the recent triumph against St Johnstone. His impressive contributions enhance the team’s attacking prowess and could give Celtic the edge in the final third.

Brendan Rodgers is not a stranger to taking Celtic to great heights and in his second spell will be keen to secure a third Scottish Premier League title. A league double is still on the table, and a win on the day will more or less nullify Rangers’ game in hand.

The visitors will go with Brendan Rodgers’s trademark 4-3-3 formation, with Joe Hart in goal. The former English international will be protected by the back four of Alistair Johnston, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Liam Scales and Greg Taylor.

Callum McGregor should form the anchor in midfield if deemed fit, with Matt O’Riley and Reo Hatate on either side. The in-form Kuhn should hold onto his position on the right flank with Daizen Maeda occupying the other flank. Kyogo Furuhashi has been in good form this season and should lead the line on the day.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Hart; Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Scales, Taylor; O’Riley, McGregor, Hatate; Kuhn, Furuhashi, Maeda

Rangers vs Celtic: Preview and Prediction.

Key Stats

  • A win on Sunday will see Celtic defeat Rangers thrice in a season for the first time ever.
  • Celtic have won 12 of the last 13 SPL championships. The only team to deny them was Rangers in 2020-21.
  • Celtic have won five of the last six matches against Rangers in all competitions.
  • Celtic have the best attack in the SPL having scored 74 goals going into the weekend.
  • Rangers have the best defence in the league, having conceded a mere 17 goals all season in the SPL.

Player to Watch

Callum McGregor

Embed from Getty Images

The Celtic skipper could not have asked for a better game to return in, and his presence will more or less galvanise the visitors. The Ibrox will be rocking, acting as a 12th man of sorts for Rangers, meaning Celtic cannot wilt under the pressure.

A loss on the day will see the Hoops surrender the initiative, something McGregor will not want. His ability to get stuck in and also instruct those around him should help Celtic keep their shape and give a proper account of themselves on the night.


Rangers 2-2 Celtic

There will be no love lost between the two clubs, and this Old Firm Derby will be as hotly contested as those that came before.  Few have held the gravitas as the one this weekend and could make or break either club’s fortunes.

With both sides in line to potentially face off in the Cup final as well, their head to head rivalry is far from done this season. The Hard Tackle predicts a hard fought 2-2 draw for both teams, a result that will aid the home side more than the visitors.

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