Sport on the sofa: Rangers, Celtic and Lionel Messi, watching with no crowds again - David Oliver talks you through this week's sport on TV

Rangers v Celtic. Celtic v Rangers. If they were in competition over tiddlywinks or Subbuteo the rivalry would still be intense.

Paris Saint-Germain's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar (L) take part in a training session at the Camp des Loges Paris Saint-Germain football club's training ground in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on August 19, 2021. (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)

So in the week of the first Old Firm game of the season – hotly anticipated and difficult to predict – each has a chance to establish some bragging right BEFORE they meet up on Sunday, when they both fly out for Europa League play-offs on Thursday.

Rangers’ 4pm kick-off in Armenia will be free-to-air in the afternoon on BBC Scotland but Celtic will be behind a paywall on Premier Sports at 7pm in Holland.

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Who will pay? How many will watch? Who will draw the biggest audience figures? And does it really matter so long as both progress?

Paris Saint-Germain's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar (L) take part in a training session at the Camp des Loges Paris Saint-Germain football club's training ground in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on August 19, 2021. (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)

What will happen on Sunday when both teams meet live on Sky?

The eyes of the country, the football world and the entire Celtic fanbase will be on the box come Sunday lunchtime because, with Rangers going home-fans only for the game, Sky Sports is the only place to see it now.

There will be no away fans at Ibrox and – in what is maybe a loose link for this week’s sport on TV suggestions – there are no fans at all for the week’s other major event – the Paralympics.

Fans have been advised to stay away so Channel 4 will lead the coverage with Clare Balding fronting evening round-ups after live events throughout the day and More4 showing team events.

Rangers Ryan Kent and Odsonne Edouard in action during a Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox Park. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

It’s exactly 364 days since the Games should have begun and they’ll give armchair sports fans their day-time live sports fill along with England’s third cricket test.

On Saturday, Manchester City v Arsenal live at lunchtime on BT Sports, Liverpool v Chelsea on Sky Sports’ Saturday Night football at tea-time look like appetising viewing with a glut of glamorous names but really, they pale in the shadow of the big game in Scotland, and struggle to compete with Lionel Messi’s debut for Paris Saint-Germain.

This is it. The pièce de résistance. The story of the summer. Sunday night. It’s happening.

Stade de Reims are a fairly historic name in football, and there will be a little piece of modern football history when the finest free transfer the world has ever seen dons a club shirt that isn’t Barcelona’s, although the dark blue and red is pretty close.

Members of Team Australia during a Australia Wheelchair Tennis practice Session ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Ariake Tennis Park on August 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images for International Paralympic Committee)

BT Sport landed on their feet when they extended the Ligue 1 broadcast rights for the coming season at the start of June and PSG promptly played real-life FIFA Ultimate team recruiting Gianluigi Donnarumma and Sergio Ramos to join Neymar Junior and Kylian Mbappe before the value of that agreement multiplied with Messi’s arrival.

It’ll be a strange sight, but required viewing on BT’s secondary channel from 7.30pm. Even if Messi doesn’t play there’s still enough for the casual football fan with the wealth of talent and names on show.

There’s about as much money swirling around the Parc de Princes as there is in the billionaires’ playground of Formula One and, if you’re of a petrol persuasion, there’s a pretty decent title battle shaping up between Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and their respective teams as the season hits halfway at the Belgian Grand Prix.

A two-horse title race with a key meeting on Sunday? That’s worth the watching.

David Oliver’s five to watch this week

Old Firm: Rangers host Celtic at Ibrox on Sunday, August 29 in the first Old Firm meeting of the cinch Premiership season. Kick off 12pm, coverage on Sky Sports Main Event begins at 11am. (Sky 401, Virgin 511)

Europa League play-offs: The Glasgow duo also face crucial games in their European pursuits on Thursday. Rangers are away at Alashkert (4pm ko) shown live on BBC Scotland (Sky 115, Virgin 162), coverage from 3.45pm. Later, Celtic face AZ Alkmaar in The Netherlands (8pm ko) with coverage on Premier Sports 1 (Sky 412, Virgin 551) from 6.45pm.

Paralympics: The opening ceremony starts the event on Tuesday and Channel 4 leads the daily coverage from 11.30am. Cyclist Dame Sarah Storey could win Britain's first medal on Wednesday and look out for veteran David Weir in Saturday’s T54 5000m.

Messi debut: BT Sport extended their Ligue 1 coverage agreement in early June – a month later it surged in value with Lionel Messi’s arrival in French football from Barcelona. The next instalment of the sports story of the summer is expected on Sunday with his debut for Paris Saint-Germain against Stade de Reims (7.45pm ko). Coverage on BT Sport 2 (Sky 416, Virgin 528) begins at 7.30pm

Belgian Grand Prix: Sandwiched between the big games in Scotland and on the continent this Sunday is the big race. At the halfway stage in the FormulaOne season it’s tight at the top between Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen of Red Bull. Coverage throughout the weekend. Race starts Sunday, 2pm, Sky Sports F1 (Sky 406, Virgin 516)

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