Celtic have played in three competitions since Livingston’s last match. That’s 11 days our opponents have had to work on stamina, then rest, as well as fine-tuning technique defending against the specific threat of Celtic. All of that time will have been spent on the pitch we play on tonight. It is unlikely we have faced a more prepared team all season.
By contrast, Celtic players’ preparation for tonight’s match will have started yesterday. The artificial surface, which caused so many problems earlier in the season, is the principle challenge to overcome. Since then we have won on artificial surfaces at Kilmarnock and twice at Hamilton, although both visits to Lanarkshire were tense affairs.
With five games before the split, Livingston are six points ahead of seventh place Kilmarnock. Lose tonight, and that gap could close to three points, with the teams due to meet next month. We can expect as much of a battle as we faced against St Johnstone or Copenhagen.