Rangers are having another season in Celtic’s shadow as they have already lost the Premiership title race and also lost out the League Cup title earlier this season. The Hoops are not only closing in to clinch a second domestic treble in two years but also maintained their sheer dominance over the great rivals. Their previous Old Firm derby tie ended in an incredible 3-2 win for Celtic away at Ibrox when they came back from behind twice in the first half and scored a second-half winner despite being down to ten men following Zojo Simunovic’s sending off. These two sides, however, will be contesting again on Sunday afternoon, this time at Hampden Park, in a high-profile Scottish Cup semi-final clash and the Light Blues will have one final opportunity to salvage something from another unimpressive campaign.
The Gers, meanwhile, revived somewhat under Graeme Murty who succeeded Pedro Caixinha midway through the campaign. Caixinha was brought in to restore the lost pride but sent them in a further mess with flop signings and weird tactics. Murty, the former caretaker boss, made some smart transfer business in winter but will have to cross this massive hurdle to set a date against Motherwell in next month’s final.
Rangers had a long list of injuries which, however, has decreased a bit in recent weeks. David Bates, who suffered a knee ligament injury in last month’s Old Firm derby, will continue to be sidelined. Jordan Rossiter is yet to return to full fitness and might not be involved in the first-team action before pre-season whereas skipper Lee Wallace suffered another setback on the road to recovery. Ryan Jack, meanwhile, is still sidelined but the Gers has received a major boost following the return of in-form Josh Windass who is back in training recovering from a calf strain.
Murty, unlike the rivals’ boss Rodgers, has not experimented much with formations since being promoted as the Gers boss replacing Caixinha and mostly fielded them in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 setup. He, however, might prefer the latter tomorrow afternoon and a return of Windass might see him occupying the ‘number 10’ role.
Wes Foderingham has featured persistently in Rangers’ goal and will have a key role to play for when he will be contesting the famous rivals.
The Light Blues are back to winning ways with a thumping 4-0 win over Dundee last week and their defensive line delivered a towering display against the Dark Blues. The return of young Ross McCrorie has brought back stability in the Gers backline who will be partnering veteran Russell Martin in central defensive roles.
Portuguese veteran Bruno Alves will remain in the reserves but Fabio Carodos, his fellow countryman, is now a forgotten name and won’t be involved on Sunday afternoon. James Tavernier has been thoroughly consistent in his right-back slot whereas young Declan John is enjoying a decent campaign on the opposite flank.
Despite the injuries of Rossiter and Jack, Rangers have enough options to feature in the middle of the park. Sean Goss, the QPR loanee, has been promising but lost his place since the return of veteran Graham Dorrans who is likely to take charge of the midfield line alongside youngster Greg Docherty, the winter arrival from Hamilton Academical, who has earned the manager’s trust to feature week in week out.
Jason Holt has lost his place and Andy Halliday has emerged as the one who is now being preferred from the bench in recent fixtures. Daniel Candeias and Jamie Murphy scored once each against Dundee and are set to retain their place in a slightly deeper wide role.
Josh Windass’ return from injury will see veteran Kenny Miller sacrificing his place despite delivering a colossal display last week versus the Dark Blues. Alfredo Morelos, one of the prime contenders of the Premiership Golden Boot race, had a disastrous occasion at Ibrox last month against their Sunday counterparts but must step up this time to defy the odds and guide the Gers to the Scottish Cup final.