By Kieran Muir
So we finally got it. An old firm game. It’s not just any old firm game though, it’s one that has been anticipated since Sunday 29th April 2012 when the hoops dominated a team that were on the way down to the root of Scottish football. But it’s not just the time gap that makes this game probably the most important ever, it is also a semi-final which could lead to Ronny Deila and his side wining at least one domestic cup this season.
When the news came through that Celtic would be meeting Rangers at the end of January or the start of February in the League Cup semi-final at Hampden, every hoops fan would have been jumping with joy and quite rightly so, the players were jumping for joy in the dressing room after the win over Inverness at Paradise. It has now become the game of the season and the very prospect of having it just on the horizon makes you realise just how much you have missed it.
Both sides will go into the game with little old firm experience, although six of the players who featured that day in April 2012 are still in the Celtic squad. The January transfer window will be important in order for Ronny to strengthen the squad with the derby game in mind, it does have that much importance on the season and for the fans.
The fact that we will most likely have European football after Christmas also adds a different dimension to this season, which almost no one would have seen coming a few months ago. When Celtic were knocked out the Champions League and had a poor run of form at the start of the season it felt like this season would drag in and be very frustrating, but if the team can make us proud by getting out of the Europa League group stage and getting a victory at the national stadium against our rivals then this season will be a very successful one for a manger still adapting to Celtic Life.
The build-up and hype to this game will be intense and that’s what we love about the old firm derby. We already have a war or words on our hands with the Championship club not believing that the one and only John Guidetti will sink the boot into them (which we all know is a certainty).
It is only just beginning of a story that will dominate the season form here on in, the fans live and breathe these games, the depravation over the last two and a half years is exactly the flammable material that will ignite the world’s biggest and most fearsome rivalry back into life.
Do think a win in the Old Firm game and Europa League football after Christmas will make this season a success?