Celtic hold Hampden advantage as key rival players crumble under derby hostility

By David Walton

March 17, 2022

It may not be next on the Celtic agenda, but we already hold a key Hampden advantage when it comes to the Scottish Cup Glasgow derby.

Celtic vs Rangers will take place on April 17th at the national stadium. The winner will progress for a cup final date back at Hampden in May.

Many pundits believe the game is toss of a coin stuff at the moment. Chris Sutton and Michael Stewart both predicted the Hoops to beat their rivals, but believe the contest to be evenly-matched. John Hartson, meanwhile, was another who stated that he couldn’t split them.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Fair enough. Even if our 3-0 hammering of Rangers in February was a total annihilation, we’re still tied at 1 win each this season. Their 1-0 victory over us at Ibrox back in August being their only blow on us this season.

In the build-up, Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley has stated that he can’t wait for the 50/50 split in the crowd [The Scotsman]. And he’s quite right too, because chances are it’s going to have a major effect on several of Rangers’ best players, and not in the way they would like.

James Tavernier, Alfredo Morelos, and Ryan Jack have all had dismal experiences in which they crumbled under hostile Parkhead and Hampden atmospheres. Back in the 2017/18 campaign, before Rangers started reducing allocations, all 3 were part of a Rangers team that failed to score in their fixtures at Celtic Park – including a 5-0 drubbing.

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Rangers have several players that just can’t cope with Celtic hostility

In addition to that, all 3 men featured in an embarrassing 4-0 Hampden semi-final defeat. Tavernier’s dismal run in particular stretches back to 2016. He’s been a part of so many crumbling performances in front of hostile Celtic fans in the last 5 years there’s too many to mention.

Morelos is another. It took him 15 derby matches before he managed to score against us. And that came in an empty stadium. He’s also been sent off twice, both in Celtic Park appearances where he was rattled by the support. The likes of Tavernier, Jack, Morelos, and you can even throw in the likes of Connor Goldson, Joe Aribo, and Scott Arfield here – have only managed to shine at Celtic Park when there was no fans present.

We watched just how easily many of them crumbled back in February. And even in our last match against them at Hampden – the 1-0 Betfred Cup final win – they missed an unreal amount of chances due to the pressure from the supporters. They totally caved under the environment there too.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

There’s a reason it took Rangers having no fans in to start getting the better of us in derby matches. Some of their most crucial players simply can’t cope when it comes to a hostile Celtic support.

Hopefully that proves to be the case at Hampden once again next month. If the Celtic fans are vociferous enough in their backing, several of Rangers’ supposedly biggest players will start making their usual mistakes.

There’s still plenty of time between now and then, but the 50/50 split isn’t likely to be something that has our rivals buzzing whatsoever. At least not privately.

In other news, Karamoko Dembele looks primed for more Celtic opportunities after exciting cameo