Ange Postecoglou is aiming for a win over Rangers on Sunday to give his Celtic team “a hell of a chance” of lifting the Premiership trophy.
The Glasgow sides meet in the last derby of the season, with Celtic knowing that a home win would put them nine points clear with three games to go, and superior goal difference.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Postecoglou said. “We kind of know we’re in the final stretch, so to speak.
“We were talking about it this morning that we’ve literally got about two weeks left and it’s all done. It’s crazy because you’re kind of taking it a week at a time and head down all the time and you realise that next time I say ‘a week at a time’ it’ll be it.
“It’s a big game [on Sunday]. We know it’s going to be an unbelievable atmosphere and it’s the type of game you want to be involved in. If we are successful it gives us a hell of a chance of finishing as champions.
“So all those kind of factors going into it mean I’m looking forward to it.”
Rangers will travel across the city for the crucial league match just three days after defeat to RB Leipzig in the first leg of the Europa League semi-final and with the decisive match at Ibrox coming up next Thursday.
Asked if he expected Giovanni van Bronckhorst to rotate his Rangers team and if that would change the task ahead, the Celtic boss explained that he expected a strong opposition regardless of any line-up changes.
“That’s not the way we think about it,” he said. “We expect them to be at their best, as they were in the semi-final and at Ibrox in the game before. I think other people read too much into that stuff.
“They’re going to put out a team that they believe can beat us, and challenge us, and we’re going to expect them to be at their best.
“Whatever happens midweek becomes really irrelevant to our preparation.
“Now what the outcome of that is on game day, everyone will see that. But in terms of our preparation, it doesn’t change anything and we don’t think about any different challenge for us.
“We’re expecting a tough game as all the other derbies have been. Our job is to bring all the energy and intensity we can.”
The Australian was also asked about Rangers’ run and whether it showed what Scottish clubs can do in European football. Postecoglou, who will lead his team into the Champions League next season, was quick to make reference to Celtic’s European Cup triumph in 1967 as an example of paving the way in continental football.
He said: “Scottish clubs, including this one, have made their mark in Europe before, I don’t think we have learned anything new this year.
“Rangers have done very well and Giovanni has done a great job in getting them to the semi-finals. I guess from their perspective they are still in the tie and have an opportunity to get to a final, which is great.
“But if you want evidence of how well Scottish clubs can do in Europe, there’s a trophy I can show you just down the road here, mate.”