Ange Postecoglou insists Celtic must produce their best performance of the season to roar past Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s Rangers Euro stars.
The Celtic boss – who will be without crocked striker Giorgos Giakoumakis for Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final clash at Hampden – is not banking on the Light Blues being bust after their Europa League heroics against Braga.
Postecoglou reckons Rangers will be boosted by bagging a last-four berth and it will be up to his men to rise to the challenge as they look to take a huge leap towards a domestic clean sweep.
When asked if Rangers will be suffering a Euro hangover, he said: “You are grasping at straws if you start thinking that way.
“My role is to prepare our players to play our best game of the year this weekend. We are playing an opponent we will assume will be at their best.
“We won’t assume any side we face will be anything less than at the top of their game. That’s what we expect on Sunday. People think Thursday’s game will have taken something out of them – it might add to them.
“They might be buoyed by that result. They might be feeling good about themselves and come out and play their best game of the year.
“We have to be ready for that. If we are that means we will be ready to produce our best game of the year and we do that by playing our football.”
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Celtic have bossed the last two Old Firm league clashes to take a grip of the title race.
But Postecoglou reckons it just shows how far his side have come they are more than a match for a Rangers side on the charge on the continent.
He said: “Absolutely. You look at Rangers and they have done awfully well in Europe. Their league form is pretty good and the results we have had against them have swayed things in our favour.
“They are a good side. They have been all year. We’ve come to be a good side as well. Is it two good sides going toe-to-toe?
“I absolutely agree with that. It’s a good point to make. People can think there’s one measure of things, it’s up or down.
“I have never seen it that way. We are in competition on multiple fronts and we want to be successful in all of them. To do that we are going to have to overcome tough opposition, whether it’s in the league or the cup.
“You have to earn everything. We are where we are right now because we have earned it, not because it’s been an easy ride for us.”
Postecoglou has a ton of respect for Celtic’s bitter rivals – but he is convinced his side are a force when they bring out their A game.
He said: “From our perspective it’s about what we’re doing as a team, how we are evolving. Are we improving, playing better than we did at the start and middle of the year?
“They are the indicators I look for. If we keep improving, that makes us hard to stop. Not impossible, because football doesn’t work that way.
“But if we keep playing the way we have and keep improving from now until the end of the season, we give ourselves a good chance of success.”
Postecoglou all but ruled Giakoumakis out of tomorrow but insisted the Greek will be on board for the run-in. And he has a fully fit Kyogo ready to be unleashed at Hampden.
The Aussie said: “Giakoumakis’ prognosis wasn’t too bad. It was nothing serious but he’ll probably miss this weekend but we’re confident he’ll be available next week.”
“David Turnbull is fine. He’s trained and James Forrest is also available.
“Kyogo trained well and did everything the boys have done. We have options – and we are going to need them.”