Two days from now marks one of the most notable derbies in football: Rangers and Celtic.
Rangers and Celtic will test their strength against each other on Saturday in the first Old Firm derby of the 2020-21 campaign. The game will be played in an empty Celtic Park, but the lack of atmosphere should only have a minimal impact on the intensity that will be displayed on the pitch.
Through the first ten weeks of the season, the title race is wide open as the Scottish giants are neck and neck at the top of the table. Steven Gerrard will need his best players to perform at elite levels in order to carry Rangers over the line against their rivals.
Celtic supporters have shared their thoughts ahead of Saturday’s battle, but they are far from confident. Do Rangers have what it takes to win their fourth meeting in six attempts? Here are three bold predictions for the Old Firm this weekend.
Alfredo Morelos will score for Rangers
Yes, you read that correctly… El Bufalo will find the back of the net for the first time against Celtic. Morelos was all over the place at the start of the season, but he is finding his groove once again now that the transfer distractions are out of the way. Well, at least until January rolls around.
With five goals in eleven games across all competitions, and three goals in eight league appearances, Morelos knows he needs to hit the ground running this weekend in order to stay ahead of Kemar Roofe, Cedric Itten, and Jermain Defoe in the pecking order.
The Colombian international has come close to scoring against Celtic on multiple occasions, but he will open his account on Saturday.
Borna Barisic will serve as a decoy
The Croatian international’s fitness levels were up in the air while on international duty, but it turns out he will be ready for action this weekend. Barisic currently has one goal and two assists to his name this season, and his heavy involvement offensively will have Celtic expecting more of the same.
Steven Gerrard knows he cannot experiment with any of his players in midfield for this clash, but he can catch Neil Lennon off guard by using Barisic as a decoy. How exactly?
Barisic will press forward as he usually does, but will cut back to free up space for his wingers, primarily Ryan Kent, to shift towards goal with one less defender in their way.
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With the Croatian’s impressive accuracy from distance he could be a difference-maker if he has an opening, but his main objective on Saturday will be to attract defensive attention to buy enough time for players ahead of him to orchestrate meaningful attacks.
Rangers will win… by two
This is a risky call as it could make me look like a genius, or it could fly back into my face like a boomerang, but I am confident for this one. Celtic have been getting positive results, but their performances have not been impressive.
Unlike Celtic, Rangers have developed consistency, have the best goal differential in the league, and have defeated tougher opposition coming into the first Old Firm derby of the season.
Celtic will surely apply pressure from the start, especially on their own ground, but Morelos, Kent, Hagi, Tavernier, and Barisic are all enjoying good runs of form, and that should see the Gers claim three precious points at Celtic Park.