CELTIC are in pole position in the Premiership with a nine-point advantage with 10 games to play, the League Cup has already been won and Michael Beale’s Ibrox side stand between them and a Scottish Cup Final place at Hampden on Saturday June 3.
Ange Postecoglou’s relentless side have earned the right to now be standing on the brink of a domestic silverware clean sweep.
Since their implausible 2-0 setback against St Mirren in Paisley in September, the Hoops have been successful in 26 outings in 27 games with the other one ending in stalemate, the 2-2 draw at Ibrox at the start of the year.
UP FOR THE CUP…Matt O’Riley holds aloft the League Cup following Celtic’s 2-1 derby success last month.
Smooth midfielder Matt O’Riley is convinced there is still more to come from the champions in the countdown to what could be a history-making campaign with a record points total and goals scored.
The £1.5million bargain buy from English third-tier MK Dons in January 2022 said: “It is definitely about not being complacent. I think that is a very important thing.
“It is about constantly setting your standards for yourselves. Even though people from the outside will think: ‘How can they get much better?’.
“I think there is always little details we can improve on – especially if we want to compete in competitions like the Champions League next season.
“We are going to have to be as consistent as we can domestically so we can transition when we play that competition.
“Especially for all of us players who want to improve, the higher we can set the bar and really push those levels that should help us be in a good place.”
TOUCH AND GO…Matt O’Riley weaves away from the challenging Ryan Kent at Hampden.
London-born O’Riley, who has been brought into the international squad of Denmark, the country of his mother’s birth, is utterly determined to make an impact among Europe’s elite in the next crusade.
The stylish 22-year-old left-footed operator, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “I have probably had mixed emotions watching the Champions League. I have watched some of the games and I have been thinking: ‘It would be good to be involved in that’.
“But, at the same time, there is a lot to learn from these games because of the sides who are involved and the level they are playing at. I try to watch as many of the games as I can when they are on because there is a lot of things to learn and a lot of things to study.”
The Hoops did earn praise for their performances in the game’s most prestigious club tournament, but still completed their group anchored to the foot of the table without a win in six matches – defeats home and away by Real Madrid and RB Leipzig and consecutive 1-1 draws with Shaktar Donetsk.
MATT FINISH…midfielder Matt O’Riley first-times a right-foot shot into the St Mirren net for his first league goal of the season in the 5-1 win in Paisley earlier this month.
Postecoglou’s men will be catapulted straight back into the group stages if, as likely, they retain the title and O’Riley said: “As much as we performed well. in my opinion, we were very disappointed in how we finished results-wise.
“However, we definitely learned a lot in terms of the ruthless side of it.
“I really miss playing in those big games against the best players. I felt like it brings the best football out of you, makes you improve, as well.
“It is great winning games in Scotland, but it is not the same as playing against the very top players in Europe. In saying that, if we can keep our level really high and try and dominate teams in Scotland then, hopefully, that will help our transition into the Champions League and competitions like that.”
Asked about his international aspirations after last year’s breakthrough to the Danish Under-21 team, O’Riley replied: “It is not something that I am actually thinking about if I am being brutally honest.
“That kind of takes care of itself. If you perform well I know eventually my time will come. I am not too fussed about that.
“But, of course, I would like to represent my country. That would be very cool.”