Rangers vs Celtic: Three key battles that could decide Sunday’s Old Firm showdown

All eyes will be on Ibrox this Sunday.

Kyogo Furuhashi. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

There are few battles in European football that come close to rivalling the Old Firm.

The constant war of attrition between Rangers and Celtic has been raging for generations, and will continue to dominate the footballing landscape in Glasgow, and Scotland writ large, for decades and decades to come.

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On Sunday we’ll be treated to this season’s first instalment of the most heated rivalry the British game has to offer, with the Gers hosting the Hoops at Ibrox.

But while the only thing that truly matters is the final scoreline, how we get to that outcome will be determined by a number of intriguing individual match-ups scattered across the pitch.

We’ve picked out three of the biggest potential flashpoints that could have a decisive effect on this weekend’s showdown...

Kyogo Furuhashi vs Nathan Patterson

Gers skipper James Tavernier was one of the players who missed out on Thursday’s trip to face FC Alashkert in the Europa League, with Nathan Patterson coming in to deputise.

Kyogo Furuhashi. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

While nothing is concrete just yet, the assumption will be that the young Scot will have to fill in for his absent captain again this Sunday, and he faces a monumental test in the form of Kyogo Furuhashi.

The Japanese attacker has been utilised through the centre, but generally operates out on that left flank, and so far nobody in Scotland has been able to formulate a plan to keep him quiet.

Undoubtedly, he will be the Hoops’ main source of danger again this weekend, and if Patterson has an off day, he could run riot.

Glen Kamara vs David Turnbull

Nobody has ever questioned David Turnbull’s potential, but to see him come flying out of the blocks in the manner that he has for Celtic this season has been quite remarkable.

Already he has five goals in 10 appearances to his name this term, including a hat-trick in his last league outing against St. Mirren.

Glen Kamara is likely to be the man who lines up directly opposite him on Sunday, and the prospect of those two duking it out for 90 minutes is mouth-watering to say the least.

Glen Kamara of Rangers. (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

The Finn is imperious on his day, and his industry and intelligence are key weapons in the Gers midfield arsenal.

Whoever gets the better of this one will be handing their side a major advantage.

Joe Hart vs Everybody in a Rangers shirt

When Celtic signed Joe Hart, it’s fair to say that some supporters were a little hesitant, to put it diplomatically.

The former England goalkeeper has accrued something of a reputation for calamity in recent years, but, for the most part, the early stages of his stint in Glasgow have represented a heady mix of honeymoon period and personal renaissance.

That quickly changed on Thursday evening against AZ Alkmaar. His howler for the first goal was almost unfathomably bizarre, and naturally it has raised concerns, questions, and eyebrows in equal measure.

If you’re Steven Gerrard now, you’re imploring your side to shoot on sight in the early stages of Sunday’s match.

Tossed into the uniquely unforgiving atmosphere of an Old Firm with a baying Ibrox crowd on his back, the hope from a Gers perspective is that the cracks are starting to show in Hart’s game, as they have done so often before.