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  • Celtic View Exclusive: Ntcham looks forward to Glasgow derby

    Celtic View Exclusive: Ntcham looks forward to Glasgow derby

    By: Joe Donnelly on 14 Oct, 2020 12:00

  • IN Glasgow derby terms, the first of the 2018/19 campaign was as enthralling as they come.

    In the opening half-hour alone, James Forrest sent an exquisite 20-yard volley off the crossbar, Mikael Lustig battered the woodwork with a glancing header, Odsonne Edouard forced a fine two-handed save from Alan McGregor at point-blank range, and the Rangers stopper somehow avoided a red card after stamping on Kris Ajer – an off the ball incident missed by referee Willie Collum and his assistants – much to the disbelief of the Paradise faithful.

    Just five months earlier, the previous derby in Glasgow’s East End saw the Hoops crush their rivals 5-0 to clinch their seventh successive championship, and, despite a tighter scoreline this time around, this was as dominant a performance. This occasion was also Steven Gerard’s first taste of the fixture and, having gone 13 games without defeat to that point, the Liverpudlian was expected to challenge the champions.  

    Into the second half, and Frenchman Olivier Ntcham gleaned Celtic’s best chance of the match when he drifted in from the inside-left channel, fired a low drive back across goal from 30 yards, but was denied by the fingertips of McGregor, the stopper pushing the ball at full stretch up and on to the woodwork for a third time inside the hour.

    The Bhoys would hit the upright once more that afternoon, but would also hit the net before then. In the 62nd minute, Tom Rogic gracefully turned defence into attack with a pulsating run from deep inside his own half, before feeding the ball to Odsonne Edouard at the edge of the opposition penalty area. The striker found the overlapping Forrest to his right, who in turn stabbed the ball back across the box into the path of Ntcham, who made no mistake from six yards.

    This weekend, the first Glasgow derby of the 2020/21 campaign takes place at Celtic Park. Olivier Ntcham remembers his strike two years ago fondly, but said he doesn’t care who scores on Saturday, as long as they’re wearing green and white.

    There won’t be fans inside Paradise this time around amid the ongoing global pandemic, but the Frenchman reckons that won’t dampen the determination of the nine-in-a-row champions to claim three points.

    “We’d prefer fans in the stands for this game, obviously, but with or without a crowd, this game will always be exciting,” said Ntcham in an exclusive interview with this week’s Celtic View, on sale now. “I’m really looking forward to it and so is every player in our changing room. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to score in this game, but the most important thing is that we get the win and keep going in this way. It doesn’t matter who scores, so long as they’re on our side!

    “We’ve started the season well, but there’s always room for improvement, especially at a club like Celtic. I think we could be scoring more goals, for example, but as long as we keep winning, as we have been, then that’s good for us as well.

    “Playing without fans is still strange, I feel, because the Celtic fans are known for being very passionate and loud in every match, home or away. Even before games, when we’re driving to the park, or just before kick-off, when you’re walking down the tunnel and you don’t hear them on the other side – that’s so, so strange.

    “For me, this also helps the opposition, especially at Celtic Park, because they can come to us and play with less pressure. On the pitch, our job remains the same, this is okay, but in your mind you do have to adjust. It’s a little bit different.”

    To read the full interview with Olivier Ntcham, pick up the latest issue of the Celtic View.

    To order online CLICK HERE

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