Celtic can take massive Champions League step with SWPL win tomorrow

By Euan Davidson

May 22, 2021

Celtic FC Women have just a handful of fixtures left, but they could secure Champions League football.

Against Rangers tomorrow, Fran Alonso’s side have the chance to leap ahead of our rivals into 2nd place. If we win tomorrow, and don’t drop any points in our remaining fixtures, Celtic will go to their first Champions League. So, no pressure then.

While the buccaneering attacking play from the likes of Jacynta Galabadaarachchi, Mariah Lee and Sarah Teegarden have rightly won plaudits, immense credit must go to the defence. Celtic have only conceded twice in their last nine matches [Celtic FC Women].

Relentless pressing has been the name of the game, and captain Kelly Clark identified that aggression as a key factor ahead of tomorrow’s game. Speaking to 67 Hail Hail, Clark said:

“I think both games, defensively we’ve been really strong. We’ve not conceded yet, and if you don’t concede, the worst result’s a draw. When I speak about our defensive performance, I don’t mean the back five, I mean eleven, plus the subs.

An exciting seven days for Celtic fans is about to get underway

“Everybody puts in the work to keep the clean sheets.

“We know Rangers are strong, that they’re good going forward, they’re fast going forward. They’ve scored a load of goals in the season. So I think from the last two games, we just know we have to put in a solid defensive performance and take our chances when they come.

“We can’t sit here and say Rangers aren’t going to put us under pressure. They’re very, very strong going forward. We just need to be sure we absolutely match that.”

Caitlin Hayes battles for possession against Rangers / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“We do it very well”, claims Celtic captain Kelly Clark ahead of crucial Champions League decider

Clark continued:

“Fran’s style is very different to anything we’ve had before. It must be good, because we’ve done well!

“He does put great emphasis on that side of the game, on defensive shape. On how we press, how we want to win the ball back. We can challenge ourselves in drills, and try and force winning the ball back quickly. The coaches encourage that. Fran’s put great emphasis on the shape when we’re off the ball, and I think it’s done us well.

“When we do it well, we do it very well. And it works.”

Of course, it’s not just about a solid defence. Celtic have beaten Rangers on two occasions out a possible two this season. A late penalty and a Mariah Lee Samaras throwback made the difference for the Ghirls in their previous meetings with Rangers.

Everyone will need to be at their best tomorrow. Only a win will do to keep Champions League destiny in our own hands, with favourable fixtures coming up for both sides.

Rangers v Celtic at Rangers Training Centre kicks off at 4.10pm on Sunday 23rd of May.

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