Clement expects Rangers to embrace gladiatorial challenge at Celtic Park

The Rangers boss played down the idea of the derby being 'must win'.

Rangers manager Philippe Clement has likened Saturday’s clash with Celtic to a gladiatorial battle and urged his players to seize the moment and take the upper hand in the title race.

The top two meet at Parkhead with Celtic leading at the top of the league by three points with three games to play and the sell-out match could prove to be decisive in terms of where the trophy resides at the end of the season.

Clement played down the idea of the match being ‘must win’ for Rangers but said that his side travel across the city with the intent of gaining what would be a hugely important three points.

Asked if victory was essential for his side, the Rangers manager said: “I don’t totally agree with that.

“If you have a draw there you can still become champions. Even if you lose, that it is a really long-shot and too much of a long-shot for me, but with the point also.

“But we go full for the three points. Clear, very, very clear. Doing that we can make an incredible comeback and make a really big statement also.”

The manager said that the occasion put him in mind of gladiators, going to do battle in a passionate and combative environment.

“It’s like I said from the beginning, I want to win every game, against every opponent,” Clement said. “Against the biggest teams in the world.

“That needs to be the aim of every person in this building, not only the players but also staff. To have the standards high and have this ambition every time, not a few times in the season but every time.

“Yes, we need to grab this moment together. We need to put all our energy into that.

“That’s the nice thing about sports and competition.

“I think football is maybe a bit like gladiators in the modern age. In the old times you had the gladiators and the stadium full of people shouting and booing or with their thumb up or thumb down.

“We’re now in that situation. The good thing is that people don’t kill us. We’re not dead. Maybe verbally, yes, but not in real life.

“We get another go in the stadium again. That’s how society works now and players need to be ready for that. It’s also exciting because the more passion people have, the more support you have also. It works both ways.

“They need to grab this moment to be really good gladiators tomorrow in the Colosseum.

“I love these moments. I love this city. It’s so passionate for football and it’s not that everybody is always friendly but I can give that a place if somebody has passion for his club and I’m not working at his club. I don’t have a problem with that. So I love it here.”

The three Old Firm derbies so far have seen Celtic win twice, with the other match a draw. Clement says his side are hungry and full of belief that they can get their first victory and insists that previous games have no bearing on the mindset of players going into this weekend’s clash.

“The past is not important because every game is different,” he said. “I don’t know for how many years Rangers won against Ross County but (this year) we lose there. That’s the opposite psychology.

“It’s about tomorrow. It’s about being there as a player and taking the moments.

“It’s about being there as a group of players and grabbing the moments.

“You know there are always small margins that decide these kind of games and you want all these things as much as possible towards your side.

“It can be a switch of scenarios during the game, like we had at Ibrox. It was more than 20 years since one of the teams had a two-goal lead and the other one came back.

“That shows also something. There are no guarantees until the final whistle.”

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