DAILY RECORD 🔵 Rangers and Celtic icons agree on one thing as ‘monster’ clash gets new moniker – Shango Media

DAILY RECORD 🔵 Rangers and Celtic icons agree on one thing as ‘monster’ clash gets new moniker

Kenny Miller reckons Sunday’s “monster” Old Firm clash is the biggest in over a DECADE – as ex Celtic hero Alan Stubbs dubbed the spicy showdown a Battle of the Bravest.

Former Celtic and Rangers striker Miller believes victory for the hosts at Ibrox will see Philippe Clement put one hand on the Premiership trophy. Brendan Rodgers is attempting to win a third derby of the season and see his side extend their lead at the top to four points, but Miller feels the Parkhead side would suffer huge psychological damage by losing.

Clement knows success for his troops will move them two points clear at the summit with a game in hand and Miller insists that’s a key factor in a monumental clash. Speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes Fanzone, he said: “I’d say this is the biggest Old Firm meeting in over a decade, actually. I’m trying to think back to a bigger game, and I’d probably go to the 2008-09 season where we [Rangers] were in a very similar situation, only it was us who were chasing Celtic down, so our game at Ibrox meant even more because they were the ones in control at that stage of the season.

Rangers follow Sunday up with their game in hand against Dundee next week. All of a sudden, if they can beat Celtic at Ibrox, and then win their game in hand, it puts them five points clear at the top.

“If they do that, I think they put one hand on the trophy, I really do. I don’t think the same applies if Sunday’s result goes the other way and Celtic win because that game in hand will still keep things close between the two of them. If Celtic win, the title race is still very much alive and all eyes will go to Celtic Park in a few weeks from now. “But I think if Rangers can get the win, a first Old Firm for Philippe Clement, I think they put one hand on the trophy.

“It’s really, really important for Celtic that they don’t get beat. I just think that mentally, and psychologically, it’ll be a real blow to them and their title chances. They’ve already given up a seven-point lead, so if they were to then see Rangers five points ahead of them in the table, with six games to go, I think it would be a mountain to climb for Celtic.

“When you look at what the final total points tallies could look like, in theory, you’re talking about two teams comfortably picking up over 90 points this season.

Rangers' Ridvan Yilmaz tries to get past Celtic's Daizen Maeda
Rangers’ Ridvan Yilmaz tries to get past Celtic’s Daizen Maeda

« So, as much as you can look at where they’ve dropped points up to this point in the season, do I see either dropping many between now and the end of the campaign? I honestly don’t think so.

“I’m looking at who could take points off them, you’ve got Hearts, Kilmarnock, probably St Mirren and one other. When it gets to this stage of the season, do I see any of them taking points from Celtic or Rangers? I’m just not sure. That stresses the importance of these two Old Firm games. They’re going to decide things, for me.”

Former Celtic defender Stubbs can’t wait for the clash with the title firmly on the line. He believes the heat is fierce on both Rangers and his old club with Sunday’s losers having their flag hopes savaged. The ex-Hibs boss reckons victory could all hinge on who has the mental courage as well as the ability under the scrutiny.

Stubbs explained: “There are going to be a lot of different battles and contests going around all over the pitch and it is about who is the bravest? In these big matches, with your big players in terms of Rangers, such as James Tavernier, it’s about how Celtic try to stop him from being an influence. It is a bit of a cat and mouse game.

“Do Celtic let Tavernier go forward, not track him and then, when they do win the ball, try to exploit that space? Is Tavernier maybe going to be more concerned about who he is up against? We know what (Daizen) Maeda’s energy levels are like going forward and backwards.

“I would have to say he’s probably one of the fittest players I have seen in terms of his workrate. So there are lots of little sub-plots like that in the game and it is going to be a battle of the bravest. It is going to be spicy and there’s a huge amount of pressure on both teams because I think, whoever loses the game, is probably on the backfoot then to win the title.”

Stubbs reckons it’ll be tight and tense in Govan with so much at stake. Brendan Rodgers has led Celtic to victories in both Old Firm meetings this season, but Rangers remain in the title mix after a recovery since the appointment of Philippe Clement. Stubbs said: “It will be really close, I really do. Rangers have had an upsurge, they are at home and the biggest thing about Old Firm games is that you cannot underestimate the strength of a home crowd.

“Celtic are going to have to show their title credentials, which they have done before. I think this time around the momentum is slightly with Rangers. But then it’s also that can Rangers deal with that pressure? I’m really looking forward to it. It has the makings of a really good Old Firm game.”

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