On January 2, 2023, the green and blue sides of Glasgow, Scotland collide in the 432nd Old Firm derby, a look ahead at the Scottish football year.
Old Firm, as it is known in Scotland, is the term used to describe the Glasgow derby. Although Edinburgh is the capital, Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city. As a result, it hosts Scotland’s two biggest teams, Celtic and Rangers.
Old Firm dominance in Scottish football is unique. The last time a team other than Celtic or Rangers won the Scottish top flight was in 1985. The team was Aberdeen, managed by none other than Alex Ferguson.
This season has been no different. Celtic and Rangers have dominated the other 10 teams in the league. Rangers are currently 17 points ahead of the team below them. Yet they are still second behind Celtic who are a further 9 points ahead.
After the weekday round, it looks less and less likely that Celtic will stumble on their way to a second successive and 53rd overall title. Of the 19 matches played, Celtic have won 18, drawn 0 and lost 1.
With the second Old Firm derby this weekend live on CBS Sports Network, on paper it doesn’t look like there’s much to play for. While Celtic’s lead is probably insurmountable, there’s more to play for than bragging rights.
Preview of Old Firm shows the importance of the turn of the year
After a humiliating exit from the UEFA Champions League, Rangers fired head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst. New head coach Michael Beale has been a positive influence so far, leading Rangers to 4 wins from 4 games since action resumed in the Scottish Premiership.
The Old Firm match will be Beale’s first real test. Celtic beat Rangers 4–0 in their last meeting in September. The outcome of this game won’t affect the title much, but it will be an indicator if things have improved under Rangers’ new manager.
After dismal displays, both Celtic and Rangers are out of European competition this season. However, both sides still compete in two domestic cup competitions, the Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup.
These matches offer Michael Beale the chance to earn his first silverware as Rangers boss. A win this Sunday will indicate whether Rangers have improved enough to challenge for silverware.
In four successive seasons between 2016 and 2020, Celtic achieved the domestic treble by winning the Premiership, the Scottish Cup and the Scottish League Cup. Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou will look to cement his legacy as Celtic’s top manager by joining Jock Stein, Martin O’Neill and Brendan Rodgers, who have all achieved this difficult feat.
The measure of success
Rangers and Celtic will both want to finish the season with silverware. The fans demand it. Ending the season without at least one trophy is considered a failure.
If Rangers ended the season empty-handed, on top of the horror of leaving the Champions League, it would be a terrible failure. It would be a disappointment if Celtic finished the season with only the Premiership title.
Expectations in Scottish football are sky-high for these two teams. When glory and trophies aren’t within reach, beating the opposing team always seems to satisfy fans, at least for a while.
PHOTO: IMAGO / PA Images
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