Charlie Nicholas believes Celtic will kill off rivals' entire season on Sunday
Former Celtic striker Charlie Nicholas has backed the Hoops to kill off Rangers’ season at Hampden on Sunday.
Rangers look to be in a troubled place mentally after back-to-back derby defeats to the Hoops in recent months. Those results have placed Celtic 6 points clear at the top of the Premiership and have us closing in on UCL qualification at the same time.
Meanwhile, Rangers are all over the shop. They have a real chance of exiting the Europa League this Thursday after defeat in their first-leg against Braga. That could then be followed up by a third consecutive loss to Celtic in Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden.
And Nicholas has slammed the Ibrox club for trying to play petty mind games as he predicts a Celtic win at the national stadium. Speaking in his Scottish Daily Express column [print edition, 12/04, page 48], Nicholas said: “I reckon Celtic will end Rangers’ season in the Scottish Cup semi-finals this weekend. If Rangers have exited the Europa League after Thursday’s clash with Braga, losing out to the Hoops at Hampden would be the death knell for the Ibrox club’s hopes of glory this term.
“And if that scenario becomes reality, there will be a lot of finger-pointed from the light blue side of Glasgow. It will be down to the Rangers board and their lack of humility. They wanted to fight the world, with their arrogance on full display.
“Celtic pass the ball with a purpose and are far more dangerous in attack. Celtic have dangerous players all over the pitch, even if Giorgos Giakoumakis is KO’d. How will they stop Tom Rogic, Callum McGregor, and Matt O’Riley in the midfield? I don’t think they can. Genuine pace troubles the Gers defence. It will be tight, but I’m going to go for a 2-1 victory for Ange’s Bhoys on Sunday.”
It’s all there for Celtic – no motivation necessary
Yes there are plenty of rewards from a Celtic perspective to think about. The opportunity of a potential treble as well as the chance to inflict further psychological damage on Rangers. Not to mention we want to continue our domestic unbeaten run and keep the momentum going heading into the post-split fixtures.
But there’s also the added carrot of ending Rangers’ domestic season and perhaps their campaign as a whole. Even if they edge through in the Europa League against Braga, their chances of actually winning the competition remain extremely slim. The Scottish Cup represents their last opportunity for silverware.
What a chance then for Celtic to overcome our foes and ensure their season ends trophyless. What a comedown that would be for them and what a positive for Celtic given where we were last season.
There should be no need for extra motivation at this stage of the campaign. No need for Ange to go in and have a word with the players about what’s at stake here. The rewards are clear and that alone should inject an extra level of intensity to Celtic’s game.
We saw just how hungry this squad is for success in Saturday’s 7-0 mauling of St Johnstone. The fact is it could’ve been double figures had Celtic wanted it enough. That alone will have Rangers concerned about what’s in store for them this weekend.
Victory here would be just as if not more glorious than the win at Ibrox 9 days ago. Fingers crossed we get the job done once again.