Old Firm Derby

Gers pair ready for Celtic

September 30, 2009
By Soccernet staff

Rangers team-mates Nacho Novo and Lee McCulloch have warned Old Firm rivals Celtic that Walter Smith's men will not be nursing a European hangover when the two sides meet in Sunday's mouthwatering Glasgow derby at Ibrox.

Allan McGregor, Rangers
GettyImagesRangers were destroyed by Sevilla at Ibrox

The Gers face their toughest possible domestic test following the demoralising 4-1 Champions League Group G defeat by Sevilla on Tuesday night.

Victory for Celtic would take them seven points clear at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, which adds to the pressure on the Gers, who unravelled quite spectacularly in the second half against the classy La Liga side.

However, Novo, who scored Rangers' consolation with two minutes to go after coming on as a second-half substitute, is confident that his team-mates will be champing at the bit come Sunday lunchtime.

"I don't think we will need a lift,'' the Spaniard said. "There is plenty of motivation for Old Firm games. It is a special game and everybody wants to play in them.

"Everyone from our side will go in to the game with a winning mentality and Celtic will be the same. We are at home and we will be positive and try to win the game.''

McCulloch was of a similar mind-set to his Spanish team-mate, insisting that there will be no need for Smith to address his troops before they go out to face Celtic.

"I don't think there will be any problems getting up for Sunday,'' the former Wigan player said. It's an Old Firm game and we really shouldn't need a team talk for that.

"It's a big weekend for us. We are four points behind so it's obviously a very important game and it's down to us to get a positive result. We will take the positives out of the Sevilla game and for the first hour there were loads of positives.''

Rangers were incensed by the denial of what looked to be a blatant penalty in the first half when striker Steven Naismith was bundled to the ground inside the box by Sevilla defender Abdoulay Konko.

Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson ignored the appeals, and the Gers soon capitulated, shipping four goals to an impressive Sevilla side. But Novo and McCulloch remain confident that Rangers can recover to qualify for the knockout stages, despite the demoralising defeat.

Nacho Novo
GettyImagesNovo scored a consolation goal in the Champions League defeat

"It is very disappointing, but these things happen in football,'' the Rangers striker said. "We were sleeping a few times, including myself for the third goal when I lost the ball, and at this level you cannot do that.

"It was a bad result for us but there are still four games to go and it's still possible that we can do something.''

McCulloch also believes that Rangers' Champions League hopes are not already dashed after just two games.

"It was shown that we can play, in the first half especially we passed the ball and we had a couple of chances,'' he said. "They didn't really threaten until they got the first goal. So I definitely think we can qualify. We are still in a good position and second place is definitely a target for us.

"The next Champions League game (against Unirea Urziceni) is a big game and we need a good result. Our draw in Stuttgart was a really good result and we were unlucky not to win so we are confident of getting that second place.''