Tomorrow’s Old Firm tussle is being hyped up as per usual, with it being the biggest one yet in history and all that.
However, there’s a gigantic dynamic which doesn’t seem to have been taken into account by too many, a gigantic change which makes this match absolutely historically unique and completely impossible to gauge.
Never before, at least in the fairly modern era, has a Rangers Celtic encounter been in an empty stadium, and believe us, it changes everything.
The claustrophobia, the pressure, the poison from the stands – all of that is gone, and the players are under infinitely less immediate pressure from vitriol in the stadium.
The big absence is the typical home crowd giving the away team dog’s abuse and being the literal 12th man. At both Ibrox and Parkhead, the home crowd intimidates the weaker members of the visiting side, and that important dynamic is absent on Saturday.
The home fans won’t be able to ‘buoy’ up their heroes, or inspire them, or gee them up. There’ll be no chanting of the normal organic kind, and the goldfish bowl of Ibrox or Parkhead during Old Firm day is simply not there.
While the implications for the result are big, the pressure the stadium usually has for the visitors is completely missing.
And that changes everything.
Do not underestimate the impact the lack of fans for the first time in this fixture’s history will have on the feel of the match – nothing will intimidate any Rangers players, and it’s left to football doing the talking.
Could be very very interesting indeed.