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Archive for Old Firm

Ready Rangers Storm Parkhead

Bring on the Bhoys.

Bring on the Bhoys.

Old Firm No. 3 kicks off on Sunday at Parkhead, site of Rangers’ victorious four-goal effort at the beginning of the season. Celtic returned the favor at Ibrox over the holidays, one-nil.

Every Old Firm match is huge. But as we eye the tail end of the title race, with Rangers trailing a flagging Celtic side by two points, this is a huge as it gets.

I’m partisan, no doubt, but I do feel Rangers have more momentum at the moment, more cohesion. Once leading by seven poiuts, Celtic’s left the door open for Rangers by stumbling its way through December and January. Celtic feels the pressure, no doubt, and Kris Boyd and Co. need to capitalize.

I feel a 1-1 draw in the cards for some reason, but I’m predicting a narrow Rangers away victory,  just to keep it sporting. If I’m right, Rangers will take over the top of the table by a single point.

Novo’s out, which is bad news since he seems to rise up in Old Firm ties. On the other hand, Kenny Miller’s fit. Can he recreate his double from his last effort at Parkhead? Who will step up? Let’s hope it’s not Scott MacDonald, Aiden McGeady or any of the other dangerous hoops hitmen.

Come on you Rangers.

Pub Wisdom Predicts: Celtic 1 – 2 Rangers

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Scotland Bounces Back Thanks to Broadfoot’s “Limited Ability”

For a man on deadline, Roddy Forsyth spins quite the yarn — as usual — about Iceland 1-2 Scotland. The win released loads of pressure on the Scottish side and its boss George Burley, for whom the honeymoon is decidedly over. He’s had interesting personnel issues to deal with, but the team appears to be exhibiting some of the characteristics he’s striving for. Namely, more open, attacking football.

Rangers’ Kirk Broadfoot is laughing the loudest following the victory. After Burley classified the recent call-up as a player with “limited ability,” Broadfoot played solidly on defense (something Rangers observers will not be surprised to learn) but also neatly headed in a crisp cross from day-job archrival Barry Robson from Celtic — oh, the drama — to put the Scots up initially and send the Tartan Army into hysteria. This on the tails of the season’s first Old Firm match, in which Broadfoot featured prominently in Rangers’ drubbing of Celtic at Parkhead.

Scotland was up 2-0 for a fair stretch of this match and controlled most of it — and rightly so. It’s been blessed with a merciful group draw — all the more welcome after their tough grouping with Italy and France among others for Euro 08. Scotland better make the most of it while the makin’s good. It would be excruciating to sit through another, er,  Scot-free World Cup.

 The Scottish side must enter matches against the likes of Iceland the way France or Italy comes into Hampden Park, or any other pitch anywhere, really — with confidence, patience, and ruthless execution, pressing the competition from the start. They may lose, but they’re there to win. They believe they can win. They expect to win.

Now, enough said. Bring on the Norwegians. Damn… Next match isn’t until next month.

Battered and Banned Rangers Press On In Search of the Quad

Rangers Supporters Revel

So much has happened since my last post that I won’t even attempt to cover it. However, some highlights…

Not one but two away goals at Sporting Lisbon saw Rangers through to the UEFA Cup Semifinals as the Ibrox side continues its miraculous turnaround season, in which its still in the hunt for four trophies.  Stout defense and opportunistic counters coolly executed were the difference.

That was followed three days later by a HUGE Old Firm fixture at Parkhead. Whew… what a game. Celtic earned the win — aided by Rangers playing on two days rest. The victory was seemingly snatched away when the ever-canny Carlos Cuellar punched away a sure goal by Nakamura late in the second half. It would have been Naka’s second of the game, the first being one of the most incredible strikes I’ve seen this season. But Cuellar unabashedly punched it away and stoically took the red to preserve the draw. But surely the draw would only stand for a moment as the SPL’s leading goal-scorer this season, Scott McDonald, set up for the ensuing penalty kick.  

But Allan McGregor, who was positively limping around on an ankle he injured minutes prior, clutched up, smothering McDonald’s badly telegraphed spot-kick to grow his hero status this season even bigger.  It looked as if Cuellar’s gamble had paid off, bringing gleeful smirks to the Blue Noses. The SPL title, it seemed, would be sealed on this day…

It was not to be, however. A Venegoor of Hesselink header deep into injury time found the mark, giving Celtic a 2-1 win and all three points, extending the Parkhead side’s tenuous 2008 title hopes for another week.

It was Celtic’s first Old Firm win in five tries, but will likely do little to quell the pressure on Gordon Strachan, which is crazy considering Celtic won the SPL  and advanced to the round of 16 in Champions League twice during his tenure. Celtic are two points ahead at the moment, but Rangers have three games in hand. The final Old Firm game of the season on Sunday — again at Parkhead — will be even bigger than the last. 

But before that happens, the first leg of the UEFA Cup Semi-final at home against Fiorentina is also a huge match. And Rangers go in with a long list of key injuries and suspensions. They will have to dig deep to hold off the injury-free Viola on Thursday, only to face a well-rested Celtic three days later. Hold on to your fuggin’ kilts, folks…