Rodgers urges Celtic to keep calm in Ibrox atmosphere against Rangers

The Hoops travel across the city on Sunday with a point advantage over their city rivals.

Brendan Rodgers urges Celtic to keep calm against Rangers amid Ibrox atmosphere SNS Group

Brendan Rodgers has called on his Celtic players to maintain cool heads when they run out at Ibrox for Sunday’s showdown with Premiership title rivals Rangers.

The Hoops are a point above Gers, who have a game in hand, so the outcome of this weekend’s derby is likely to have a significant bearing on the outcome of what is shaping up as the tightest championship race since the Light Blues’ financial implosion more than a decade ago.

However, Rodgers has told his players to focus fully on playing football and not the potential ramifications of victory or defeat.

“It starts with the whole build-up,” said the Hoops boss. “I think it’s important not to get entrenched in the whole storyline because at times the storyline can be that ‘it could a disaster’.

“But for me the storyline is that there is always opportunity. You arrive, you stay calm and you just look to focus on your performance.

“This is one of the greatest, most iconic games in world football but you’ve got to perform and you can only do that by staying calm and looking to play your football.”

Rodgers – who has lost just one of his 16 matches against Rangers in his two stints as Celtic boss – insisted he has not given too much consideration to how any particular result at Ibrox might leave the title race.

“I haven’t over-thought it,” he said. “I always prepare the team to win, I never think of drawing or losing a game. I always prepare the team to go and win the game and it’s served me well especially in these types of games.

“You can’t win them all, of course, but the mindset is to impose ourselves on the game and then let’s see where we are at at the end of it.

“I always feel really comfortable coming into these (Old Firm) games but that’s only on the back of preparation and the clarity we want to give to the players.

“And also because of how we play. I have always been confident in that and we have come in to a lot of these big games and performed very well.

“It’s not always perfect but we have performed well in them.”

After struggling for form at various points this term, Rodgers feels the return of key players from injury has helped Celtic regain their “authority” recently.

The Hoops could be at full strength for the trip to Ibrox if captain Callum McGregor and winger Luis Palma are declared fit.

“It’s just having the authority back on the pitch, and you saw that at Livingston last weekend,” said Rodgers.

“When we are at our best, we are not giving much away whilst creating that great platform.

“No matter how good you are attacking wise, it’s about consistency in how you defend.

“We are at our best when we are super organised and tight – and then everything is connected with and without the ball.

“That will be the same on Sunday. We will be attack-minded and front foot, but attack-minded when we defend too. When we do that, we can play very well.”

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