Celtic captain Scott Brown believes Rangers will have a mental block about facing the Scottish Cup holders in Sunday’s Hampden semi-final.
Brown claims that Celtic’s recent 3-2 Scottish Premiership victory at Ibrox, when they were twice behind and played for 33 minutes with ten men following a red card for Jozo Simunovic, will have badly affected their rivals’ confidence.
“It probably will be in their heads,” he said. “Also, we’ll be turning up with eleven men at Hampden. We’ve had great games there recently, we’ve played really well and we’re going into the match in good form.
“Going down to ten men was always going to be hard for us, especially after 60 minutes. But we had a game plan and we stuck to it. If you stick to your gameplan and everyone works together then, nine times out of ten, you can pull it off.
“Luckily enough, big Odsonne Edouard turned up with an absolute worldie of a goal to win it. I think we probably defended even better with nine outfield players than we did with ten because we knew we had to focus on not having the ball as much as we would have liked to have done.
“It must be hard for them. For us, on the other hand, it’s pushed us on a bit. I know we drew 0-0 at home to Dundee last midweek but we had 26 shots and ten of them on target that night; all we needed was to get one in the back of the net.
“That shows you we still have the hunger and passion to go for it. We just need to make sure we get the ball in the back of the net and we’ll keep working.”
After Rangers had to join the bottom tier of Scottish football, four years went by without a league fixture involving the two Glasgow giants but, back in 2011, there were eight meetings in all competitions during the calendar year. However, even then, Brown, pictured, couldn’t get enough of the atmosphere which surrounds it.
“I think probably everyone had enough of it at that point,” he said. “Even you guys [the media] were getting bored of it but for us to go on this run is fantastic. It lets you know the quality we’ve shown in the last two years and how we have turned things around.
“I will never get bored of Celtic v Rangers games. I seem to enjoy them more and more and I think our fans do, too.”
As Brown acknowledged the travelling support at Ibrox on 11 March, he momentarily picked up a pair of sunglasses which had been chucked on to the pitch, prompting headlines about Rangers being left in the shade.
The 32-year-old said: “Somebody threw them at me – of all the things they could have thrown at me!” he said. “I had them on for literally a nanosecond. I put them on then took them back off and I was like: ‘S**t!’ I’ve been photographed’. But I pulled it off like Pitbull!”