Derby night under the lights – Celtic Women v Rangers Women Preview

It’s a double derby weekend, with Celtic Women taking on Rangers Women in the Scottish Women’s Premier League on Friday night, before the Men’s Scottish League Cup Final takes place on Sunday.

It’s shaping up to be a scintillating night under the Excelsior Stadium lights as the race for the title heats up. Just one point separates the two sides, with Celtic sitting in second place just ahead of Rangers. Glasgow City remain top, but that could all change if Fran Alonso’s side secure the three points at the Excelsior Stadium, with the Ghirls having the superior goal difference and Glasgow City not playing until Sunday.

In an exclusive interview with A Celtic State of Mind, Natasha Meikle caught up with Fran Alonso who had this to say ahead of the tie:

It’s very exciting. The players are very excited as well, they are training at their best. Everyone wants to be in the starting 11, and if they are not, they definitely want to be in the squad. I can see a lot of excitement in training, but at the same time I see quality and focus which is very important in these types of games, and I expect us to have a good game”.

The games against Rangers and Glasgow City are of paramount importance in the determination of the league title. While there have been advancements in recent years, women’s football in Scotland is still in its infancy, with only the top three teams having made the transition into full-time football. While Hearts and Hibs are making progress, there remains a gulf between the top three and the rest of the table. To illustrate this point, the top three have only conceded 12 goals between them in the 18 league games so far this season, while racking up a staggering 227 goals.

History tells us Friday night’s tie is likely to be a tight game. Just four points separate the top three sides, who all have the league title in their sights. Fran is acutely aware of this, saying “We know right now the top 3, all depend on themselves to win the league, they don’t depend on other teams. If they win all their remaining games, they are champions. Going into this tie, there is slightly more pressure on Rangers, as if we win there will be four points between us. Whatever happens on Friday is not going to determine the league, but there is a little more pressure on them because of the difference in points.” Fran is quite correct. But as he pointed out, the top teams do not drop many points, so any points deficit is difficult to make up.


In the head to heads so far this season, Celtic suffered their only league loss of the season with a narrow 2-1 defeat away to Glasgow City, and were held to a goalless draw against Rangers at Broadwood.  Speaking about the previous ties, Fran Alonso said: “The first time we played Rangers [this season] they were flying, they hadn’t lost a game for over a year, it was at their ground, and I thought it was important not to concede. We defended perfectly, but I wasn’t totally pleased with how we attacked. But this time it is a home game, in front of our fans. The stats say that at this moment in time we are the best attacking team, in terms of passes complete, shots on target and goals scored, so we want to attack much better than we did last time. We will go for it and see what happens, it’s very exciting”.

Both sides are going into the tie in great form. Prior to the international break, Celtic were on a 5 game winning streak, following an uncharacteristic 0-0 draw with Motherwell, scoring 21 goals in the process. Equally, Rangers are going into the game in top form, with 4 wins in 5 (a draw with Glasgow City accounting for the points dropped).

Having only conceded once in their last 10 games, there is no doubt that Rangers will be a hard side to break down, but Celtic certainly have the attacking options capable of doing so. Liv Fergusson, Amy Gallacher and Jacynta are leading from the front, a joy to watch as they play fast flowing attacking football.

Celtic have a strong squad, with a number of quality options all over the pitch at Fran Alonso’s disposal. There is going to be tough competition for places, however Fran says “It’s a fantastic problem to have. We also have [January signings] Hana Kerner and Tasha Flint, who are now fully fit. If needed, they will be able to start. We have a lot of options, a lot of good options. We also need to assess how the international players come back. To play in this game players need to be 100% mentally and physically fit. 80% will not be enough against Rangers. It will be hard to leave any player on the bench, but whoever performs better in training through the week, and shows they can execute the game plan will get the spot. We have goals coming from everyone, all over the pitch, we don’t depend on one player who must play or we won’t score.”


There were no ties last weekend due to an international break, which saw Celtic lose captain Kelly Clark (Scotland), Maria McAneny (Scotland U19s), Shen Mengyu (China) and Liv Chance (New Zealand) to international duty. Further scheduling issues were invoked by the Men’s Scottish League Cup final, which the Women’s derby game was originally scheduled to clash with. Fran said “Obviously it’s always better to have everyone together, and the ideal scenario is to have your whole squad together for the whole week. I’d have preferred if the game was on Sunday so we could have more time to prepare, but there is another massive game for the Club on Sunday – and we all want to be there as well! So despite the challenges of the calendar, we have prepared as well as possible.”

A strong home support will be crucial, and Friday night presents the perfect opportunity for fans to get along and support the Women’s team, kicking off the derby weekend.  Discussing how the support can give Celtic the edge in this tie, Fran said: “The most influential thing is to have a good crowd. Normally when we have big crowds we have the extra man that we need. It is very important for us, playing for the badge. It means everything. We have great connections with our fan base. We always have our best games in a Celtic shirt with big crowds, so a big crowd could help determine the game.”

ACSOM are proud patrons of the Women’s team, and wish the girls the best of luck on Friday night. Tickets are available on the Celtic FC Website, priced only £8 for Adults and £4 for Concessions.



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