Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou says form not a factor ahead of Rangers semi-final

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou says form not a factor ahead of Rangers semi-final

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou says form not a factor ahead of Rangers semi-final

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou will not fall into the trap of believing that a five-game unbeaten run against Rangers gives them an edge going into Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final.

The Hoops have beaten Rangers three times this season, including the Viaplay Cup final at Hampden in February.

Pressure is on Gers boss Michael Beale to keep Celtic from moving within two wins of the treble and maintain their hopes of winning a trophy in his first season in charge at Ibrox.

But Postecoglou doesn’t run the risk of appearing overconfident.

“I treat these things as separate entities,” she said. “If you fall into the trap of thinking there’s some sort of edge you have because of previous accomplishments, that’s where perhaps you can lose clarity about what’s important.

“Every game is different and particularly when you’re talking about cup games, semi-finals when you know everything is on the line that day and a place in the final is the reward.

“I just don’t think previous form, whether it’s last week or in other games, really matters.

“You don’t want to go into these matches without having won for a while, certainly if it’s against a direct opponent or in the previous weeks.

“But from our point of view, we’ve been in good shape for a long time, the performance has been consistent for a long time and we just want to keep it going.”

The former Australia head coach added: “We expect them to be strong. That’s how we go in every game, we expect the opponents to be at their best. They have some very good individuals who could cause problems and have been very consistent in terms of their results.

“Like any other match, we go in there and respect the opponents, but in the end we know it’s up to us to play our football. We know that when we’ve done that, we’re hard to stop.”

Despite Celtic winning the previous derby 3-2 to extend their lead in the Premier League, Postecoglou admitted the quality of play wasn’t particularly high with mistakes from all sides with so much on the line.

“It’s very difficult to take that out because human emotions will inevitably take over in those kinds of situations, but what we’ve tried to emphasize is that we need to stay clear-headed and focused on what’s important to us,” he said.

“This is to make sure we control the game the way we want and play on our terms. You can only do this if you make sure you are not influenced by other factors.

“At the same time there will be passion, there will be anxiety, there will be nervousness on both sides during the match and it’s about trying to minimize the impact that has on performance.”

Rangers’ previous win against Celtic came at the same stage as last year, when an extra-time own goal from Carl Starfelt ended the Hoops’ hat-trick hopes.

Although Celtic have dominated the domestic scene so far this season, that defeat still hurts Postecoglou.

“You never put those to bed, mate, unfortunately,” he said. “It would be nice to think that’s how it works, but most people will tell you, surely players and coaches, the ones where you are unsuccessful tend to stick around in memory sometimes longer than the ones where you are successful.

“You have to go through these experiences, both good and bad, to grow. I think we used it as a growth experience for ourselves to say that we were unsuccessful that day, not for lack of trying.

“At the time we faced a very good opponent, Rangers were heading towards a European final so they were a really strong team and we lost in extra time.

“You use it as an opportunity to develop and learn, but you also use it as an inspiration to keep going to try and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

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