Celtic host rivals Rangers this Saturday in the infamous Old Firm Derby – the first since Rangers returned to the Scottish Premiership following their four-year stint in the lower divisions.
The weekend’s fixture marks the resumption of one football’s most historic and fieriest derbies in world football – one that’s roots lie far deeper than the game itself and cuts deep into the religious sectarianism that has marred the West of Scotland for years.
17th century-esque battle cries will ring out this Saturday over Celtic Park as the two Scottish giants face up in the biggest game in Scottish football over the past decade.
For Rangers, the game represents a chance at redemption following their financial troubles and subsequent relegation. For Celtic, a chance to kick their allies whilst down and show their true dominance over the footballing land in Scotland.
As for the fans, it’s a day that has been sorely missed in the Scottish footballing calendar over the past 4 years, for the rivalry, the atmosphere, the sheer importance and of course the football on show.
Both sets of fans will be hoping their side can produce a goal or two such as these five classics …
Little Shaun Maloney produced a moment of sheer genius to dump Rangers out of the League cup at the Quarter-final stage.
His near on 40-yard effort seemed to spend an eternity in the air (won wonder given how far he was out) but glided superbly past the hopeless Rangers’ keeper and plum into the top corner.
The ‘Lisbon Lions’ Celtic had just secured the European Cup in memorable fashion and later went on to secure the League title too with a 2-2 draw at Ibrox. Jimmy Johnstone’s 20-yard belter gave Celtic a 2-1 lead, and even though they later conceded, a draw was enough to hand the Hoops the title.
What better stage to produce a goal like this than a cup final/Old firm derby. Barry Ferguson’s brilliant set-piece midway through the second was Rangers’ equaliser and a goal that sent Hampden Park into meltdown. Rangers’ Peter Lovenkrands then later added the winner in a hard-fought cup final victory for the boys in blue.
The so-called ‘Demolition Derby’ match of 2000 produced one of the finest and most memorable solo efforts in the fixtures history. Celtic’s goal machine Henrik Larsson collected the ball deep in the opposition half, before nutmegging the defender and coolly chipping the keeper with the kind of nonchalance that saw him written in the annals of Scottish football and Celtic history.
The first Japanese player ever to score in an Old Firm derby and boy was it one to remember. Nakamura’s 30+-yard wonder-strike handed Celtic a 1-0 lead as the Hoops needed a win over their rivals to further open up the gap at the top of the table. They later went on to win the league, and the Japan international’s goal went down in history as one of the greatest ever.