Can Rangers catch Celtic in Scottish Premiership title race?

What is the state of play?

Four games to go. Three points the difference. One huge Old Firm clash to come.

It has been a rollercoaster of a ride as leaders Celtic and rivals Rangers battle it out for top spot in the Scottish Premiership.

With the post-split fixtures under way, next up Celtic host Hearts on Saturday, while Rangers take on Kilmarnock at Ibrox on Sunday – live on Sky Sports.

Then all eyes turn to Celtic Park on May 11 as the Old Firm meet for the final time in the league this season – live on Sky Sports – in a game that could decide where the title ends up.

Rangers are first in action after that derby clash with a home game against Dundee on May 14, while Celtic then face a trip to Kilmarnock the next day – live on Sky Sports.

It all comes to a dramatic conclusion on May 18 when one of the two clubs will be presented with the trophy. Celtic are at home to St Mirren while Rangers are at Hearts.

Who are favourites for the title?

During parts of this campaign, it really has been impossible to call. However, with just four games to go, Celtic are in the driving seat.

As well as leading their rivals by three points – they will also have home advantage when the teams meet for the final time in the league this season on May 11 – live on Sky Sports.

However, if the past eight months have taught us anything, then there is still every chance another twist in the tale could be on the horizon.

Going back to October when Gers boss Philippe Clement replaced Michael Beale, few were predicting a closely-fought title race. He inherited a squad that were bereft of confidence and struggling in Europe.

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Michael Beale reflects on his time at Rangers and applauds Philippe Clement for the job he has done this season

However, cue a 16-game unbeaten run under the Belgian and Celtic’s seven-point gap was standing at five, and crucially Rangers had two games in hand.

Just before the turn of the year, the champions responded with a 2-1 win over their Old Firm rivals and Rodgers’ side were eight points clear at the summit heading into 2024.

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Highlights from December’s Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Rangers

It was then Rangers’ turn to hit back and they won both their games in hand following the winter break, while Celtic dropped points at Aberdeen – allowing Rangers to draw level at the top.

When the Hoops faltered again by drawing at home to Kilmarnock, Rangers moved clear at the summit for the first time this season by beating St Johnstone 24 hours later.

More proof that there would be twists and turns ahead came on the opening weekend of March. Both clubs lost on the same weekend in the Premiership for the first time since 2018 as Motherwell won 2-1 at Ibrox giving Celtic the advantage – only for Hearts to beat Rodgers’ side 2-0 at Tynecastle Park.

The Hoops did return to the top in March and then left Ibrox with a point after a pulsating Old Firm clash that finished 3-3. The gap remained at one point, with second-place Rangers having a game in hand.

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Rangers and Celtic shared six goals in an epic match at Ibrox

Cue another shock. Celtic beat St Mirren to go four points clear, but the next day Rangers lost at Ross County for the first time in the league and followed that up with a draw at Dundee.

After a three-game run in the league without a win, Rangers defeated St Mirren before Celtic restored their three-point cushion at the top with victory at Dundee.

Celtic look well placed to retain the title – but good luck to you if you want to predict exactly how things will play out from here.

What the pundits say

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Charlie Mulgrew, James McFadden and Kris Boyd discuss how the title race is looking after wins for Celtic and Rangers

Speaking after Rangers’ win at St Mirren and Celtic’s victory at Dundee, Sky Sports’ Kris Boyd said:

“Both teams have won and for Celtic that’s another game ticked off that they can’t drop points. I don’t either team were at their best.

“However, Rangers came up to Dundee a couple of weeks ago and dropped points whereas Celtic have found a way to win. They leave with a massive three points, with just four games to go.”

Former Scotland forward James McFadden said:

“For Celtic and Rangers – at the minute the key is just to win games.

“Everyone wants to play good football and be at their best but ultimately you have to win games.

“Celtic will want to keep that advantage and for Rangers, they need to put that pressure on.”

Ex-Celtic defender Charlie Mulgrew added:

“The two teams are playing under huge pressure. There is no place like Glasgow in terms of pressure to win titles.

“For players to put on good performances under that pressure is not easy – the main thing is getting three points.”

Why there’s more than just a trophy at stake

Luis Palma fired Celtic in front from the penalty spot
Celtic were in the Champions League group stage this season after winning the title

You might think it means pride here – and yes there is that. However, Champions League football is also up for grabs with this season’s league winners guaranteed a group-stage spot and big prize money: at least £35m.

However, due to the UEFA coefficient rankings, it will be the last season an automatic spot is up for grabs for Scottish clubs for some time.

Rangers' Cyriel Dessers celebrates with Abdallah Sima as he scores to make it 2-1 vs Real Betis
Rangers beat Real Betis away to win their Europa League group and seal a last-16 spot before losing to Benfica

That is because Scotland has fallen out of the top 10 in UEFA’s coefficient rankings which means next season’s league winners will need to play a play-off to enter the group stages, while second place face three qualifying rounds.

Then from 2026/27 it gets even worse with just one spot for the league winner who will likely face three qualifying rounds.

It is all to play for, not just for silverware but also European football and a chance to mix it with some of the greats once again.

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