How the Celtic dressing room reacted to drawing rivals in Scottish Cup
Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley has claimed that he and his Celtic teammates were “calm” after drawing Rangers in the Scottish Cup on Monday night.
The Hoops had just dismantled Dundee United 3-0 on their own turf. It was another big night for the club and for Ange Postecoglou. The victory ensured that Celtic’s treble hunt was on as they stretched their unbeaten domestic run to 30 games.
There was also plenty of excitement going around the supporters after the draw was made too. Celtic will have the chance to end Rangers’ domestic season within a 2-week period with the Scottish Cup semis due to be played 2 weeks after a crunch league meeting at Ibrox.
But the Celtic players were hardly jumping about buzzing after the Scottish Cup draw. Instead, they simply took it in their stride according to O’Riley.
As quoted by the Scottish Sun, the midfielder said: “It feels good to be in the semi-final. The vibe in the changing room is good, everyone is happy. We were pretty calm when we saw the draw. We have Ross County on Saturday to focus on, so we’re not thinking too much about it.
“We’ll take every game as it comes. But everyone is aware of it at the back of our minds — and that has to be the main goal. However, if you look at it from that point of view you can get distracted from the task ahead — which is Ross County. You are better off if you stay in the moment and focus on game by game.
“Attitude is important. The manager has said our off-the-ball work-rate will win us games and we showed that against Dundee United.”
Celtic players following in their manager’s footsteps
No surprises to see this from O’Riley. Not when you look back at how Ange Postecoglou reacted to the semi-final draw. He was hardly jumping about and making a big deal out of it.
This is exactly the right approach to be taking too. We have an absolutely crucial game against Ross County on Saturday. Every game we play between now and the end of the season is going to be of equal importance. As soon as we start looking ahead to future fixtures that aren’t the next one, that’s when we’ll capitulate.
To be honest, there’s nothing to be getting excited about with this fixture either. It’s just another game in the calendar. We knew we would have to beat Rangers at some stage if we were going to win the Scottish Cup. We can’t rely on other teams doing it for us.
And you would hope that our 3-0 success over them back in February will have totally changed minds on how they view this fixture. No longer should we think that we’re coming up against a superior footballing team.
Playing Rangers isn’t being viewed by the players or the manager as a particularly special occasion. At least not at the moment. Just now, all it is is another game in a hectic and intense run-in.
Come kick-off, no doubt the passion and sparks will be flying. But for now, Celtic are taking the right approach. It means nothing for the next few weeks.