John Hartson thinks Celtic have smashed a big psychological barrier against rivals

By David Walton

March 21, 2022

Celtic great John Hartson believes the Hoops have broken a major psychological barrier against Rangers after February’s hammering.

The Bhoys will clash with Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side after the international break in what’s going to be a titanic clash at Ibrox. Victory for Celtic will take them 6 points clear with only 6 league matches remaining.

Both sides go into the clash having won 1 game apiece against the other this season. However, February’s 3-0 hammering of our rivals ended an over 2-year winless run in the fixture. Indeed, we’d lost 6 and drawn 1 of our previous 7 before February’s rout.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

And Hartson believes that victory, which totally turned the tide of the title-race, will give Celtic a new lease of life when it comes to this particular fixture.

Speaking via Celtic TV, Hartson said: “Celtic turned Rangers over very very well in the last game here. Rangers in terms of form I don’t think had been beaten in the previous 7. So Celtic know now that they can beat Rangers after there was that barren run of not being able to beat them and this particular team.

“But they know they can now. It’s a different proposition when you go away from home and go to Ibrox. It’ll be a tough game. But Celtic know what’s at stake and know what the carrot is at the end of the season. Hopefully now the international players that go away come back in good health.

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“You hope they all come back in 10 days having featured in 2 games and Ange hasn’t got an awful lot to do in terms of injuries.”

Celtic have the psychological advantage as Rangers struggle to keep grip on title

One of the key talking points heading into the April 3rd clash will be who has the psychological advantage. Do Rangers hold it considering they’re the ones who are at home? Naturally, you would imagine that will give them some form of boost as it’s traditionally done in this fixture historically.

But the truth is, it’s our rivals who are under all of the pressure heading into this particular clash. Firstly, they know that failure to win and it truly is advantage Celtic in the title race. If we take 3 points, they’re then hoping from favours from elsewhere whilst likely having to win every game between then and the end of the season.

Secondly, there’s major expectation on them not to lose the title. Even if we’ve been leading the way for large spells, their own support still believe them to be a better team than ourselves. They still expect them, at some stage, to overcome the gap and take over at the top.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

And finally, they’re the side who are under pressure after that mauling in the last fixture. A defeat for them won’t only spell the end for their title hopes, but it would put van Bronckhorst in a horrific light in comparison to Postecoglou. He would be 0-2 when it comes to derby matches and that’s something they’ll struggle to forgive.

Not that there isn’t any pressure on Celtic either. We’re not blind to the fact that we hold a lead many in our support now expect us to hold more than they hope for it. If Ange and his team were to make a mess of it from here on in, big question marks would be put forward about the bottle of this side.

So it’ll certainly lead up to an interesting clash. However, any fear factor our rivals had heading into this one is now certainly gone. February put paid to that.

In other news, The IFAB rule everyone is forgetting that totally ends Celtic vs County red card debate