Match Analysis: Rangers 1-0 Celtic

By Jamie Currie
 January 4, 2021

On the 50th anniversary of the Ibrox disaster Rangers paid the 66 fallen fans the best tribute they possibly could by managing to get the three points and the 1-0 victory over a 10-man Celtic side who are almost at the point of needing a pair of binoculars to see Steven Gerrard’s Rangers and that came courtesy of a Callum McGregor own goal with 20 minutes to play.

There were a number of talking points to come out of that match and I will look at them from an analytical and statistical point of view.

Celtic’s diamond upset Rangers’ rhythm

Celtic shaped up with two strikers, and a no.10 with a diamond in midfield. However, when Rangers tried to play from the back, Edouard would shut off James Tavernier, Griffiths would shuttle right to cut Barisic off and Turnbull would play up on Goldson and Balogun. This forced Rangers to kick long from each goal kick and when it happened they were pressed so tightly that the ball was coming straight back at them — Rangers front three, Morelos, Kent and Roofe couldn’t hold the ball in to create any meaningful goalscoring opportunities. These elements of the play ensured Celtic had the better of the first half: 52% of possession, 10 shots and three on target compared to Rangers’ three total shots with none on target, they also made more accurate passes than Rangers 176 (79%) to Rangers’ 149 with a 70% success rate.

Hagi’s impact changed the game

However, Celtic having the upper hand didn’t count for anything as it was still 0-0 when the referee blew his half-time whistle and the introduction of Ianis Hagi to replace Kemar Roofe at the interval allowed Rangers to gain a foothold in the match.

Both screenshots show Hagi picking up positions in the no.10 position giving Soro something to think about behind him whereas the first half was too easy for the Ivorian with most of the game being played in front of him.

Hagi picking up positions in the no.10 position
Hagi picking up positions in the no.10 position

The picture on the left is Hagi backing up Morelos and Kent when the ball is wide for Barisic to cross. It doesn’t seem much in the grand scheme of things but it gives Celtic another problem to deal with.

The image on the right again is Hagi making Soro’s life more difficult by picking the ball up in the half-space and driving at him, something that Kemar Roofe failed to do during his 45 minutes on the park. Additionally Hagi gave Rangers an out; the ball stuck to him, he was sensible with possession and generally helped Rangers bring the energy to the game that had been badly lacking in the first half.

For context here is a small comparison of both players’ individual stats:

Hagi: two key passes, 2 from 2 successful dribbles; he also won 6 out of 7 ground duels and made four tackles.

Roofe: No shots or key passes for Roofe, won 3 from 7 ground duels, and didn’t put in any tackles.

You may wonder why the tackling stat is highlighted considering they are both forward players, I felt as if Hagi came on and handled the game better and him sticking the tackles in helped Rangers to get closer to Celtic.

In summary, Steven Gerrard got this sub spot on.

Madden was right to send Bitton off

It’s been covered from every angle and despite Neil Lennon’s frustrations, Bobby Madden got the game-changing decision spot on.

Madden was right to send Bitton off

This was the first time Rangers managed to beat the press, Tavernier plays a perfect pass for Morelos. Hagi occupies Soro, and Laxalt is neither high or deep meaning Morelos gets in behind Bitton. As for Ajer there is no way he is getting back at Morelos due to the ball trajectory; Morelos if Bitton doesn’t haul him down has a free shot at goal.

Numbers — they are formidable

This win just adds to Rangers’ fantastic league numbers this season. Only Motherwell have scored at Ibrox in a domestic fixture. 22 league matches unbeaten and just five goals conceded. The win was Rangers’ 14th win on the bounce and it maintained the 100% league record at Ibrox and a remarkable 18th clean sheet in 22 games.

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