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*** The Official PreMatch Analysis***


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Celtic vs Rangers on Wednesday April 16, 2008 at Celtic Park, SPL game, Kick-Off 7:45 PM

The first of two OF games at Celtic Park. A crunch game. Certainly for Celtic who must win to keep their hopes of winning the title afloat.

Rangers sit proudly on top of the SPL table with 75 points from 30 games, 4 points ahead of Celtic who have played 32 games. Celtic have a better goal difference (2 goals) at present.

Celtic have a very good home record and were unbeaten in the Champions League until they met Barcelona in the last 16. Similarly in domestic competition until recently, when defeated at home by both Aberdeen (SC) and Motherwell (SPL). Nevertheless they will have a big home crowd egging them on and they are desperate to win. It will be a game for bravehearts. In my opinion the tackling will be fierce and players will not get too much time on the ball. Whoever wants this tie the most will win it. Rangers spirit has been tested umpteen times in battle this year in far flung places and proved to be very strong. Belgrade, Lyons, Panathinaikos, Bremen, Lisbon to name just a few of these places. Neither did we yield at Hampden, in Edinburgh, Dundee or Aberdeen. For this reason I believe we will win at Celtic Park and set us up for a fantastic UEFA Cup semi final vs Fiorentina.

We have come so far, fighting on four fronts - one is won and there are another three to conclude. If we can beat Celtic on Wednesday night our task is suddenly much much easier. We would have a 7 point lead with two games in hand, which if won = 13 point lead. Surely more than enough.

Walter Smith rested many players against Partick Thistle on Sunday. They will come back into the side. Unfortunately Thomson is suspended. Hemdani will take his place along with Daily as defensive mid fielders. The team is almost certain to be MacGregor, Broadfoot, Cuellar, Weir, Papac, Daily, Hemdani, Davis, Ferguson, McCulloch, JCD. Cousin will replace JCD after an hour no doubt. Further substitutes will depend on how the game is going.

This will be a test of nerves and I expect we shall win. There may be crowd trouble if Celtic get beat. I trust there shall be none if we do not prevail as we will still be in a strong position.

Talk is cheap - we heard the Celtic players before the last game at Ibrox - now they are very confident after their win versus Motherwell. Four goals were scored. The most in a long time. Perhaps they should have saved a couple for Wednesday. My guess is Walter's system will stand up to the test yet again.

After a hard game I predict we will win by 1 - 0 with Barry scoring the winner.

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