Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou will fall not “fall into the trap” of believing their five-match unbeaten run against Rangers gives them any advantage ahead of Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final.
The Hoops have beaten Rangers three times this season including in the League Cup final at Hampden in February.
The pressure is on Gers boss Michael Beale to stop Celtic moving within two wins of the treble and maintain his hopes of winning a trophy in his first season in charge at Ibrox.
But Postecoglou is in no danger of appearing over-confident.
“I just treat these things as separate entities,” he said. “If you fall into the trap of thinking there’s some sort of advantage you have because of previous results, that’s where you can maybe lose clarity around what’s important.
“Every game is different and in particular when you’re talking about cup games, semi-finals when you know everything is at stake that day and a spot in the final is the reward.
“I just don’t think previous form, whether that’s last week or in other games, really comes into it.
“You don’t want to be going into these games not having won for a while, for sure whether that’s against a direct opponent or in previous weeks.
“But from our perspective, we’ve been in good form for a long time, performances have been consistent for a long time and we just want to continue that.”
The former Australia head coach added: “We are expecting them to be strong. That’s how we go into every game, we expect the opposition to be at their best. They have some very good individuals who could cause problems and they have been very consistent in terms of results.
“Like every other game we go in there and respect the opposition but ultimately know it’s up to us to play our football. We know when we have done that we are hard to stop.”
Despite Celtic winning the previous derby 3-2 to extend their healthy lead in the cinch Premiership, Postecoglou admitted the quality of the game was not particularly high with errors on all sides with so much at stake.
“It’s very hard to eliminate that because human emotions inevitably will take over in those kind of situations, but what we’ve tried to emphasise is that we need to stay clear-headed and focused on what’s important to us,” he said.
“That’s to make sure that we’re controlling the game the way we want to and play the game on our terms. You can only do that if you make sure you’re not influenced by other factors.
“At the same time there’s going to be passion, there’s going to be anxiety, there’s going to be nervousness in both camps during the game and it’s about trying to minimise the impact that has on performance.”
Rangers’ previous win against Celtic came at the same stage last year when an extra-time own goal from Carl Starfelt ended the Hoops’ treble hopes.
Despite Celtic dominating the domestic scene so far this season, that defeat still hurts Postecoglou.
“You never put those ones to bed, mate, unfortunately,” he said. “It would be nice to think that’s how it works but most people will tell you, certainly players and managers, the ones where you aren’t successful tend to stick in the memory sometimes longer than the ones where you are successful.
“You need to go through these experiences, both good and bad, for growth. I think we used that as a growing experience for ourselves to say we weren’t successful on the day, not for the want of trying.
“We faced a really good opponent at the time, Rangers were on their way to a European final so it was a really strong team, and we lost in extra time.
“You use that as an opportunity to develop and learn but also use it as a source of inspiration moving forward to try and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
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