SP | Celtic - Rangers
Celtic vs Rangers; Brown vs Barton; Rodgers vs Warburton
Almost half a decade after their last league match, Saturday 10 Sept sees the eagerly awaited Old Firm fixture return to the footballing calendar.
High Noon, let battle commence
At twelve noon today Glasgow will be at fever pitch as Celtic welcome Rangers to Parkhead. By 2pm, half will be in ecstasy, half in agony. One will have bragging rights until Hogmanay, valuable championship points and a night out on the town. The other will be slinking away from the spotlight, licking their wounds and counting the days until their chance for revenge. Even a draw, in most places in the world accepted as a fair result, will be celebrated by one and denounced by the other. Welcome to Old Firm logic.
Since they've been gone
This is the first league match between the two since Rangers returned to the top flight and those that say these fixtures haven’t been missed are mistaken. This is what both sets of fans have been waiting for. Since Rangers left the top flight in 2012, there have been two meetings. The first was in the League Cup semi-final in 2015, as one sided an Old Firm game as there had been in decades, Celtic winning 2-0 but realistically only the terrible pitch prevented a rout. Last season a repeat result was predicted by many but, under the guidance of new manager Mark Warburton, a resurgent Rangers triumphed on penalties following a pulsating 2-2 draw.
This game is different though, it’s not on at a neutral venue, points are at stake and the teams are on an even footing even if the home team start as heavy favourites.
Brendan Rodgers is presented with the Scottish Premiership Manager of the Month Award for August. (MH) pic.twitter.com/LipBccMPLM— Celtic Football Club (@celticfc) 8 September 2016
Fiery fans vs mellow managers
Both sets of fans will be fit to burst at the start of the game but it will be interesting to see whether the teams are at the same state of high tension. The managers, Warburton and Brendan Rodgers are close friends and former colleagues. You would expect them, in the heat of the battle, to put the friendship on hold for the duration of the match but it is unlikely that either is willing to forgo their shared footballing ethos.
Many tuning in will be eagerly awaiting the first 50-50 between Celtic skipper Scott Brown and Rangers Old Firm debutant Joey Barton to see if sparks fly but both managers base their footballing philosophy on possession and patience over blood and thunder. It may not be what Scottish football is renowned for or what the worldwide audience is waiting for but peace may just break out in Glasgow, if only for the 90 minutes of the match. That said, when the whistle blows at high noon, sit back and most probably enjoy the fireworks
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