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Sir Kenny Dalglish: With CalMac not available it’s up to others to step up for Celtic

© Kieran McManus/ShutterstockCeltic skipper Callum McGregor went off in Leipzig with a worrying knee injury
Celtic skipper Callum McGregor went off in Leipzig with a worrying knee injury

We are at the halfway point of the Champions League group stages and Celtic and Rangers have just one point between them.

It doesn’t make for happy reading. A single draw from six games is quite grim.

But should we be surprised? Does either side deserve to be criticised?

At the moment, I’d say Rangers are battling to finish in third place. Right now they are looking at finishing bottom.

If they can beat Ajax at Ibrox later this month then they will have a chance. However, they will need at least four points from their remaining three games.

I think Celtic are in a better place and look likelier to stay in the tournament. They have a point from their away game at Shakhtar Donetsk.

They may well feel they should have at least one more draw and that’s an understandable outlook.

It may well be that seven points could see them finish runners-up to Real Madrid.

That’s why it’s vital they win their next two games – at Parkhead against RB Leipzig and then Shakhtar.

It’s a tall order but not impossible. If they are trying to do it without Callum McGregor then that makes it all the harder.

Callum is central to everything they do and he makes the team tick. He is a fine operator at Champions League level.

With him available due to injury, then it’s up to others to step up to the mark.

I have a good feeling Celtic can do it. They are now in a three-team tournament and they can win their next two games.

But maybe they need to be a wee bit more compact than they were at certain times in Leipzig the other night in the 3-1 defeat.

They may well need something from their final game, away to Real Madrid, and that might be a step too far. But you never know.

I don’t feel the same confidence for Rangers.

I was at Anfield last midweek and Liverpool were comfortable winners. The 2-0 scoreline flattered Rangers.

On these pages last week I wrote Allan McGregor would need to have the game of his career, and he was magnificent.

He produced at least four world-class saves. Time and time again, he denied Nunez.

Liverpool went for the win and they played with a front-four, although sometimes Jota would drop a wee bit deeper.

Rangers didn’t threaten enough and it wasn’t until the final five minutes that Alisson was called into action.

Overall, Giovanni van Bronckhorst would have been disappointed to lose but would have been relieved that the defeat wasn’t any heavier.

He started with a back-five and young Leon King was part of that. The teenager performed well and can be proud of himself.

He conceded the penalty in the second half and was just a wee bit unlucky at that point.

However, Leon stood up well in the 90 minutes and he’ll be all the better for that experience.

I see no reason why he won’t start at Ibrox on Wednesday night. I think he deserves to be in there.

It’s just a case of whether or not Rangers can sneak something from the 90 minutes.

I’m sure most people would expect Liverpool to win and that is a fair assessment.

It’s no disgrace when another team is simply better than you. It’s the fault of nobody if there is a player on the opposite team better than you.

That’s what happens in football, and sport in general. That’s why we have winners and losers.

Liverpool will know that a win on Tuesday night will all but secure their spot in the last-16. That’s why they will be fully focused and ready.

Rangers may well spring a surprise and take something from the 90 minutes, but there is little evidence to suggest they will.

However, everyone must appreciate they are playing at a completely different level to what they are used to. It’s not their fault they are struggling to compete.

But the bottom line is that the Champions League is a bonus for Celtic and Rangers.

The most-important thing for both clubs is to win the SPFL Premeirship. That always has to be their main focus.