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Preview: Celtic vs. Rangers - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Scottish Premiership clash between Celtic and Rangers, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Rangers will celebrate their first game as Scottish Premiership champions with a trip to city rivals Celtic on Sunday lunchtime, hoping to extend their 32-match unbeaten league run.

The Hoops are aware that their nine-year crown has been taken from them but will be looking to stamp their authority in the Old Firm derby against a Gers side that were knocked out of the Europa League by Slavia Prague on Thursday.

Match preview

Odsonne Edouard in action for Celtic on December 20, 2020© Reuters

The champions will be playing at Celtic Park on Sunday but sadly for the hosts the title is now not theirs to celebrate.

A goalless draw away at Dundee United on March 7 dethroned the Hoops as champions for the first time in a decade, ending their hopes of winning 10 titles in a row, with their Glaswegian rivals reclaiming the crown as Scotland's finest a bitter pill to swallow.

Watching Rangers cruise 20 points clear at the top of the table will have been tough for Celtic to take, but John Kennedy's side now need to dust themselves down, and they should view this encounter as the perfect opportunity to not only end Rangers's 32-game unbeaten league run but to also make a real statement ahead of next season.

The Hoops have lost each of their last three league meetings with the Gers, their worst losing run against them since a run of four games between March 2007 and March 2008 under former boss Gordon Strachan.

Celtic's two games against Rangers in the league this season also saw them fail to score; never in their history have the Hoops failed to register against Rangers for an entire Scottish Premiership campaign.

Even though the 2020-21 season will be remembered as the year Rangers reached the summit, victory on Sunday would be a small positive to take from what has been a disappointing league campaign.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard before the match in the Europa League on February 18, 2021© Reuters

Steven Gerrard's hopes of a league and European cup double were ended in dramatic fashion on Thursday night as Rangers crashed out of the Europa League to Slavia Prague, losing 2-0 at Ibrox and 3-1 on aggregate.

After Peter Olayinka gave the visitors a 17th-minute lead, the home side's mission was made even harder when both Kemar Roofe and Leon Balogun were shown second-half red cards, reducing the Gers to nine men, before Nicolae Stanciu scored his second of the tie to send the Czech Republic outfit through to the quarter-finals.

A bad-tempered game was overshadowed in the closing stages, with Glen Kamara claiming that he was racially abused by Slavia's Ondrej Kudela, drawing a furious reaction from the Rangers players before the officials could restore calm.

Gerrard has given his full backing to the Finland international and now hopes that UEFA do not brush this incident "under the carpet".

The Gers will be disappointed that they have not progressed to the last eight but must now turn their attention to the Scottish Premiership where they can celebrate their triumphant league success at the home of their Old Firm rivals.

Rangers had only won two of their previous 16 visits to Celtic Park before winning their last two trips, including the 2-0 victory in October. Gerrard's side are also looking to win three separate league matches against the Hoops in a single season for the first time since the 1999-2000 campaign under former manager Dick Advocaat.

Victory away from home would help Rangers bounce back from their midweek heartache and would also see them claim the bragging rights over their city rivals once again this season.

Celtic Scottish Premiership form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • D

Rangers Scottish Premiership form:
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Rangers form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • L

Team News

Rangers' James Tavernier receives medical attention after sustaining an injury in the Europa League on February 18, 2021© Reuters

Celtic left-back Greg Taylor has missed the last two matches after limping off in the defeat to Ross County with a muscle strain, and he remains doubtful for Sunday's Old Firm derby.

James Forrest made his first league appearance since mid-September in the draw at Dundee United and will be in contention to feature on Sunday, although the winger is unlikely to start the match.

Striker Odsonne Edouard is set to start once again up front; the Frenchman has been directly involved in six goals in his four league appearances against Rangers at Celtic Park, scoring four and providing two assists.

Gerrard has confirmed that Rangers right-back Nathan Patterson is a doubt for this weekend's match as the 19-year-old picked up a knock in the defeat to Slavia Prague.

Central defender Leon Balogun started and was sent off against Slavia in midweek, but the Nigerian could fill in at right-back if Patterson is not fit to play; this could therefore see Filip Helander return to the first XI to play alongside Connor Goldson in the heart of defence.

Midfielder Ryan Jack, who has not featured for the Gers since February 21, is also a doubt with a calf problem and if he is fit to make the matchday squad, he is unlikely to start.

Celtic possible starting lineup:
Bain; Kenny, Welsh, Ajer, Laxalt; Brown; Turnbull, McGregor; Christie; Elyounoussi, Edouard

Rangers possible starting lineup:
McGregor; Balogun, Goldson, Helander, Barisic; Kamara, Davies, Arfield; Aribo, Morelos, Kent

SM words green background

We say: Celtic 1-2 Rangers

Rangers have already won at Celtic Park earlier this campaign and despite defeat in midweek, they will fancy their chances of bouncing back with another victory on Sunday.

The Hoops are desperate to end the Gers's unbeaten league run and will be hoping to take advantage of their Europa League disappointment.

However, Gerrard's side have claimed 40 points from their 16 away matches this season, conceding only seven goals, and we feel the visitors can secure a narrow victory in what is expected to be another fiery yet enthralling Old Firm derby.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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Slavia Prague's Nicolae Stanciu celebrates scoring against Rangers in the Europa League on March 18, 2021
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Wednesday's key events

· Team GB starlet Sky Brown - aged just 13 - takes part in the women's park event and has a realistic chance of picking up a medal too. Bombette Martin is Britain's other representative, while hosts Japan are among the favourites for gold (1am)

· Great Britain's women have more history in their sights heading into their semi-final against Netherlands - the team they beat in the 2016 gold medal match (2.30am)

· The men's 400m hurdles final on Tuesday will go down as one of the greatest Olympic races of all time, and the women will attempt to emulate that, with new world record holder Sydney McLaughlin of USA and Netherlands' Femke Bol the favourites for gold (3.30am)
· Nick Miller is Britain's representative in the men's hammer throw final (12.15pm)
· The men's 800m final could be a wide-open affair (1.05pm)
· A thrilling men's 200m final is in store as the likes of Andre de Grasse, Noah Lyles and 17-year-old sensation Erriyon Knighton bid to succeed Usain Bolt as Olympic champion (1.55pm)

· After a medal-laden day on the water on Tuesday, Great Britain will be looking for more success, starting with Luke Patience and Chris Grube in the men's 470-class medal race (6.33am)
· Team GB also have medal hopes in the women's event, with defending champion Hannah Mills looking to retain her crown alongside new teammate Eilidh McIntyre (7.33am)

· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Great Britain's Frazer Clarke faces Uzbekistan's Bakhodir Jalolov in the men's super heavyweight with a place in the gold medal bout up for grabs (7.03am)
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· World records have been tumbling in the velodrome, and another could go in the men's team pursuit final as Italy - new world record holders themselves - face Denmark (10.06am)

· Three Brits have made into into the final of the men's jumping individual final, including fastest qualifier Ben Maher, who will bid to inherit compatriot Nick Skelton's Olympic crown (11am)

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