Barisic required moral support after Celtic humiliation; needs targeted if he plays again

By David Walton

March 30, 2022

As Ange Postecoglou goes about trying to plot his way to a Celtic victory at Ibrox, he’s almost certainly taking a strong look at exploiting Borna Barisic should he feature.

Barisic was one of many Rangers players who were all over the place at Celtic Park back in February. He was dominated by the pairing of Josip Juranovic and Liel Abada, and it clearly scarred him post-match.

Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst stated that he needed some moral support from his teammates. Clearly, getting rinsed off of Celtic’s right-flank took a major toll on his confidence levels.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Since then, he’s been in and out of the side. Calvin Bassey has featured more regularly, but Barisic has largely started in the bigger games.

Indeed, since February, van Bronckhorst has started Barisic against Borussia Dortmund both home and away as well as the tougher league fixtures against Hibernian and Aberdeen respectively. Given Bassey has hardly impressed for them in some of their other fixtures since the last derby, Barisic has ever chance of starting or at least playing some role.

If he does, then he’s exactly the player Celtic need to try and exploit given the fact there will be a new pressure on Rangers for this one.

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Rangers are in a must-win scenario here. Yes, some may believe they have an advantage due to the support they’ll have. For the neutral, it’s probably set up for them to get the result and take the title race to the wire.

However, there’s a huge pressure on Rangers to do that. Barisic, as we saw at Parkhead, crumbled under a different pressure. A pressure that forced him to try and face up to a hostile crowd that was happy to goad him for every loose ball. He crumbled.

Therefore, it’s worth asking the question of him in particular at Ibrox. If he starts making early errors or again continues to be rinsed by the likes of Abada or Jota – that “support” he’ll have around him will instantly turn on him.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

How he would react to having his back against the wall in that kind of environment is anyone’s guess. But judging by what happened last time around at Parkhead, it wouldn’t bode well for them.

He is, by far, their weakest link going into this one after what happened at Celtic Park. Van Bronckhorst has shown a willingness to throw him into big games, and could be tempted to do the same here. Barisic has, after all, started in their last 9 Glasgow derby matches.

Bassey has done nothing to prove that he’s a stronger alternative, so hopefully the Rangers manager gives Barisic his shot at redemption. Celtic will have a golden opportunity to test his mental fragility if he does.

In other news, Celtic foes suffer crushing international heartbreak days before Glasgow derby