Alonso's underdogs ready for derby test


By Colette Carr

Fran Alonso knows the challenge his side faces as they travel to title favourites Rangers tomorrow for the first derby of the season, but he is confident his underdogs have prepared well for the encounter.

The meeting serves as the manager’s first experience of the Glasgow Derby and he admitted it was one he has had earmarked in the diary.

“It's one of the games I’ve been looking forward to. They’re one of the best teams so we’ll have to test ourselves against that, but it is what we aspire to be.

“We know they've invested massively and have signed internationals, so on paper they are favourites and I agree with that. We will obviously try to get something from the game, but I think it will work both ways because they are under pressure.

“Anything other than winning the league after that kind of investment will be a failure for them, and we don’t have those same expectations. We’re in more of a long-term project but I think we are well prepared. It is a challenge we all want to take, mentally we are ready and we will fight the best we can.”

Sunday brings a third game in a row for Celtic, something of an anomaly in the Scottish game this year given the current climate, but having had that routine fall into place Alonso hopes they can reap the rewards of consistency. 

“Right now, we are happy with our level of fitness when we are doing testing and we’ve improved a lot from the start of the season, so I don’t think we will struggle physically.

“It will be our third game in a row which is the consistency you need in any professional league. With international breaks and Covid before that we haven’t managed to get that, so this is the first time and that helps.You want to compete against teams that are at full strength,” he explained.

And while he understands the gravity of the fixture historically, he has reiterated to his players that they can’t lose focus of the prize up for grabs.

“Historically there is the big rivalry, but for us it’s still just another game with three points to play for,” he told.

“It’s a special occasion in that it’s my first Glagsow Derby, but at the end of the day, it’s worth three points that we have to try and fight for. We will play them another two times, so we will work hard but be confident and do the things we know we are good at. 

“We will be happy if we manage to win, but if we play well and get a draw I will be happy, but we obviously know that if you wear the Celtic badge you have to aim for winning every game.”

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