St Johnstone will need to find the right mix of caution and bravery to have a chance of ending Celtic’s long unbeaten run at McDiarmid Park tomorrow.
Perth manager Tommy Wright got his tactics right at Celtic Park earlier in the season and the players carried out his plan just as well to earn a 1-1 draw.
And, with a one-goal lead going into the closing stages, they have come as close as anyone in the Premiership to beating Brendan Rodgers’ invincibles.
Wright said: “They had more than 30 shots against us, but the majority of them were from between 25 and 30 yards and it would have taken something special to have beaten Alan Mannus that day.
“Our tactics worked and we also carried a bit of luck.
“You cannot play a high press against Celtic for 90 minutes. Physically, you cannot do it.
“You hope to press them high for as long as possible to disrupt the rhythm of the style they want to play.
“However, when you play against a side with players who are individually better than you, you need to be brave and keep possession for longer when you win the ball back. If you keep giving the ball back the pressure builds and it can be a case of ‘bang, bang, bang’ and suddenly you find yourself 3-0 down.
“You’ve got to be cautious, but at the same time also try to win the game.”
Wright went to Celtic Park for the Champions League clash with Bayern Munich in midweek.
“Yes, and I wish I hadn’t,” he joked. “Celtic were brilliant, superb. OK, Brendan changed his team last week for Kilmarnock but you look at what they did last week to Aberdeen and that’s what they’re capable of – they dismantled the team who have been by far the second best in the country over the last few seasons.
“They won comfortably at Pittodrie and on Tuesday night they were awesome. Celtic would have been extremely disappointed not to have won, never mind drawn it. It shows you the quality of their squad and the size of the task we’re up against.
There have been unexpected points dropped by Celtic in the Premiership, though.
“The league’s better,” said Wright. “Other teams are better this season but it doesn’t mean Celtic are any less of a force. They’ll still win the league comfortably because they have the best players.
“Brendan has maybe made more changes in certain games pre-Champions League than he’s done in the past and that’s a sign of the depth of his squad. When they perform as they have recently they’re still awesome opposition to face.
“I can’t think of too many times they’ve played better than they did at Pittodrie – maybe the first 60/70 minutes against us last season when they went 3-0 up before it finished 4-2. They were brilliant that day.”
Wright added: “History tells you we were the last team to defeat them domestically, 62 games ago.
“Again, one of the areas they’ve improved on is their results and performances after Champions League matches. Brendan does not seem to have changed his team as much this season as he did last.
“We’re approaching the international break as well, so I would imagine they’ll be strong again this weekend. They maybe had a problem before after Champions League games but I don’t see it this time, physically or mentally. You have to be mentally strong to play at such a big club so that won’t come into it this time at all.”