Can Celtic win the league if they beat Rangers this weekend? Can Rangers go top if they win at Celtic Park?

Scottish Premiership title race explained ahead of Old Firm showdown

Celtic host Rangers in the final Old Firm derby of the league season this weekend in a match that will have a significant bearing on the outcome of the Scottish Premiership title race.

The teams are currently separated by three points at the top of the table with Celtic holding the advantage over their Glasgow rivals with just three league fixtures left to play.

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Brendan Rodgers' side also hold a goal difference advantage over Rangers - they are five goals better off - which could be a deciding factor if the teams finish the campaign with the same number of points.

Rangers' Todd Cantwell battles with Celtic's Callum McGregor during the Old Firm match at Celtic Park on December 30, 2023. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)Rangers' Todd Cantwell battles with Celtic's Callum McGregor during the Old Firm match at Celtic Park on December 30, 2023. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Rangers' Todd Cantwell battles with Celtic's Callum McGregor during the Old Firm match at Celtic Park on December 30, 2023. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

The clubs have exchanged pleasantries on three previous occasions this season with the record so far in favour of Celtic who followed up a 1-0 away win in September with a 2-1 home victory in December before the 3-3 draw back at Ibrox last month.

Rangers were seven points behind when Philippe Clement replaced Michael Beale in October - since then the Belgian has closed the gap on Celtic but not enough to overhaul the league leaders.

It did appear last month as though Rangers would take control of the title race when they moved to within four points of Celtic with two games in hand. A defeat at Ross County and a draw at Dundee scuppered any notion of that, with Celtic recovering from a 2-0 defeat to Hearts at Tynecastle on March 3 by winning every game since, either side of the six-goal thriller in Govan.

Celtic now hold all the aces. If truth be told the title is theirs to lose. But can it be won this Saturday at Celtic Park in the 12.30pm kick-off live on Sky Sports?

Technically, no. The best Celtic can hope for is a victory that will take them six points clear with two matches remaining, so theoretically, Rangers could still overhaul them. It would mean the earliest Celtic could clinch the title would be the following weekend when they travel to Kilmarnock where a point would be enough to seal the deal.

Any Celtic victory in the Old Firm derby would also increase the goal difference advantage, making it doubly difficult for Rangers to claw back the deficit.

They would need Celtic to lose away to Kilmarnock and home to St Mirren, while they would need to Dundee at home and Hearts away, all while overturning, at best, a six-goal deficit, possibly more. Such a set of results would be highly unlikely so while a victory for Celtic this Saturday would not be an official coronation, it would all but secure a third successive championship for Parkhead men, and a first for Rodgers in his second spell in charge.

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A draw would maintain the status quo which would suit Celtic as they could afford to draw one of their remaining two matches and still win the league, with Rangers needing the defending champions to slip up twice.

A Rangers victory, however, would keep the title race very much alive ahead going into the final fortnight. Should the Ibrox men leave Parkhead with three points, they would draw level with Celtic on 84 points at the top of the table.

Should they produce a stunning performance and win by three goals or more than they would leapfrog Celtic on goal difference and move top of the table. You have to go back 25 years to the infamous derby of May 2, 1999 for the last time Rangers took such a convincing result from Parkhead, when a 3-0 win clinched the title in a match that left referee Hugh Dallas bleeding from a cut on his head after being struck by a coin thrown from the crowd.

Any margin of Rangers victory would set up a scenario whereby the title race could be decided on goal difference, setting up the prospect of a shoot-out on the final day of the season. The SPFL helicopter is ready and waiting.



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