Every time a big European club prepare to face Celtic in the Champions League, the local media tend to have a stream of articles on the club, and who can blame them?

After all, few sides in Europe have such a rich and interesting history, helped by a fascinating rivalry with the other team in Glasgow: Rangers.

Rangers may be a long way from Celtic right now, with Pedro Caixinha trying his best to get closer, but the rivalry is still a source of great interest in the wider football world.

Le Parisien, ahead of Paris Saint-Germain’s European clash against Celtic, take a look at this hatred between the two clubs, which goes beyond football, as religion plays an equally important part in what could often be described as a ‘conflict’ rather than your standard disdain between local competition.

To get a better idea, the French newspaper had a chat with some ex-players, like Didier Agathe, who played for Celtic between 2000 and 2006.

He said: “In town, you couldn’t wear religious signs. You couldn’t wear a rosary, for example. In the stadium, you could hear Rangers fans chanting against the pope or the Virgin Mary. It was incredible. You were allowed to lose in the European Cup, but not against Rangers.

“After games, you’d hear in the media about all the incidents around the stadium. It was about everything but the football.”

Agathe continues: “When I first arrived to sign, they first explained to me the areas where I could and couldn’t go, the restaurants, the car parks.”

Embed from Getty Images

As Stéphane Mahé, who played for both Celtic and Paris Saint-Germain, explains, it really is a town ‘split in half’, with green and blue areas.

Things have changed a bit, however, as some Catholic players have since played for Rangers (which before was a big no-no), like Stéphane Faure, who spent three years there between 2012-2015, but old habits die hard.

He said: “One day, I made the sign of the cross when I walked onto the pitch. I didn’t have any problems with the club, but I heard all about it from the fans. Over there, you really hear ‘f*** the pope’ non-stop.

“During the first six months, I took a taxi between my house and Murray Park, the training ground. If the driver was a Celtic fan, he spent the journey criticising my teammates. However, if he was a Rangers fan, he didn’t want to drop me off, and would make me pay less than was on the meter.”

While this all may be common knowledge to local fans, intracity rivalries in France don’t really exist.

For example, Paris Saint-Germain’s fiercest competition are probably Marseille, on the other side of the country.

The closest you’ll get to the Celtic-Rangers rivalry are the likes of Lille vs Lens (24 miles apart), Bastia vs Ajaccio (92 miles) or Saint-Étienne vs Lyon (40 miles).