Celtic have been no strangers to big games in recent years. In fact, before going trophyless in the previous campaign in what was a massive shock, they had won the domestic treble for four straight seasons. That is an incredible achievement. And stunningly, they are still in the running to win a treble this season. The Hoops are leading the Premiership title race by six points, are in the Scottish Cup semi-final and have already won the Scottish League Cup.
Thus, Ange Postecoglou and the players have done brilliantly and deserve a lot of credit. Coming into the season, the odds were stacked against them and not many fans expected them to even be in the running for the Premiership.
This a very different team to the one that had done the Quadruple Treble though, with the club having signed 17 players over the past two transfer windows. On the other hand, key stars like Scott Brown, Ryan Christie, Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer and several others have left.
Thus, many of the current crop of players will not have a lot of big match experience. And heading into the Scottish Cup semi-final against the Rangers, Postecoglou has sent an important message to the Celtic stars. As reported by Glasgow Live, the manager said:
“My experience with these things, there is no point trying to disguise it as something it isn’t.
“You can go in there and say that it’s just another game and treat it just like another game but I think you lose the unique aspect of the fact that you want your players to embrace the big occasion and play in a big game. You don’t want your players to shy away from it.
“I don’t think I need to tell them that, they will realise themselves from the build-up and obviously when they walk out there.
“But my role in that is just to make sure that the focus is on the important things, the things that have got us to this point, and also highlight the fact that the key to these big games is to be ready to take the opportunity.
“You don’t want to let too many of those opportunities go by in your career.
“I’m not one for telling the guys to ignore the hype or ignore the attention.
“Particularly at this football club, it’s really important that the guys embrace that and want that.
“They want to be in the big games and, the bigger the games, the bigger the opportunity to make a statement.”
Postecoglou tells Celtic players to embrace the big occasions
It rarely gets bigger than a Glasgow Derby in a Cup semi-final at Hampden Park. And while it is important to play the game, and not the occasion, it is also important to embrace these moments.
Going into the game, the Celtic players must be confident of their chances of getting it done, having won the previous two games against the Rangers, 3-0 at Parkhead and 2-1 at Ibrox.
On the other hand, the Rangers have made the semi-final of the Europa League and are riding a high as well.
This article was originally posted here