The Australian no doubt meant that in terms of the struggle for cinch Premiership supremacy. A win for his side would practically see them with one hand on the league championship trophy-even if the 56-year-old would never admit as much. Unquestionably, though, that is what is on the line. It could be no other way when Celtic hold a three-point lead over title rivals Rangers, and a superior goal difference of 14, going into the seventh-last game of the top flight campaign.
If there is a decisive outcome to the fixture this weekend, for any of the protagonists, other – albeit, less impactful – considerations will come into play. One of those doesn’t bear thinking about for those of a Celtic disposition. The Ibrox arena can be considered the club’s one remaining serious hurdle for Postecoglou to surmount a first campaign at the Celtic helm wherein he has been able to scale heights that it was confidently predicted were impossible. A hardly unreasonable conclusion to draw in light of Rangers’ title triumph last season being secured by a record 25-point winning margin. The chasm was owed, in part, to what unfolded when Celtic took to the Ibrox turf. In all, Celtic have been beaten on each of their past four excursions to the Govan ground – three of these reverses on Premiership duty (the most recent on Postecoglou’s watch) and one suffered in a Scottish Cup tie a year ago. Not since between 1962 and 1965 they have lost five successive outings at Ibrox. Their losing run there 57 years ago actually extended to six straight defeats in major competition, four of these in the league, with one in each of the cups.
Should Celtic end their miserable sequence of derby away days – they have only one win in their past seven visits to the home of their ancient adversaries – Postecoglou would knock down another major obstacle for Celtic on their league travels. Going into the campaign, Celtic troubles at two grounds resulted in them consistently coming up short in the pursuit of league victories at these venues for even longer periods than is true of Ibrox.
In November, a 3-1 success at Easter Road marked Celtic’s first league win away to Hibs in eight attempts. Meanwhile, the same scoreline at the Tony Macaroni Arena last month allowed them to slay their demons at a venue wherein Livingston had ensured they were without a win in five previous visits. A period that covered the near four years since the West Lothian club returned to the top flight.
Going into this weekend’s pivotal derby, Postecolgou’s team could hardly be in better shape to end their two-and-a-half-year wait for a win at Ibrox – their last a 2-0 success in September 2019. On a run of 31 domestic games unbeaten, they have met, and conquered, every significant challenge placed in front of them by Scottish opposition. Yet, the test that will face them at Ibrox, by its very nature, eclipses all others they have tackled in the past six months. So too, though, do the rewards on offer.
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