It’s the game everyone waits for in Scottish Football. Rangers and Celtic will take on each other for the first time in a Cup final since 2011. Celtic have won the last nine domestic trophies on offer, but Rangers have looked their match so far this season whether it is domestically or in Europe.
Steven Gerrard is looking for the first managerial trophy of his career, and he would know that a win for him on Sunday could land Celtic a hammer blow even in the Premiership race. However, if the results are reversed, then questions will be raised whether Gerrard has really managed to close the gap on the Hoops.
The Bhoys will set up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation. Their four attacking players will always be on the move and will look to stretch play with their runs. They will also have the pace to bypass the Rangers defence. Callum McGregor will be the crucial ball-playing midfielder for the Bhoys and allowing him too much time to feed the ball forward could spell trouble for the Bears. Lennon will bank on his player’s experience and winning mentality to see off a Rangers side who are in unchartered territory by entering the final.
Rangers have blown hot and cold in derbies under Gerrard. Either they look to press from the off and start swiftly, or they have a meltdown and look tame. It’s tough to say what kind of Rangers might turn up for this final. Gerrard has also tinkered with his formation from time to time. We expect him to go in with his 4-3-3 formation. One of the wide forward men could be Scott Arfield who will often drift inside instead of occupying the wide areas.
His job could also be to stay tight on Callum McGregor. Rangers had shown in one of the derby wins earlier that this Celtic team could be rattled with a high press. Now whether they will have the cojones to do that in a final remains to be seen.
Celtic: Johnny Hayes, Boli Bolingoli and Mohamed Elyounoussi are expected to be available. Odsonne Edouard also has a ‘very good chance’ to feature as revealed by Lennon. Jozo Simunovic, Hatem Abd Elhamed and Scott Bain are expected to miss out. Greg Taylor is cup-tied.
Predicted lineup: Forster; Frimpong, Jullien, Ajer, Bolingoli; Brown, McGregor; Johnston, Christie, Forrest; Edouard
Rangers: Jordan Jones is the only absentee for the Gers and Gerrard will have a full squad to choose from.
Predicted lineup: McGregor; Tavernier, Helander, Goldson, Barisic; Davis, Jack, Kamara; Arfield, Kent, Morelos.
Ryan Christie has been in the form of his life, and his energy and directness could trouble the Bears. James Forrest is also a big game player, and these two can cause havoc in Rangers’ defence with their constant movement, pace and runs.
This is the kind of game where Rangers will say they spent £7m for Ryan Kent. The winger will likely be up against an inexperienced Jeremie Frimpong, and Kent will have a chance to prove his worth. In midfield, Steven Davis is going to be crucial for the Gers as he is the one who orchestrates and dictates play when his side is on a song.
And of course the biggest debate in Scottish football right now; Edouard Vs Morelos. Those two strikers will be crucial for their respective sides again.
Rangers Win: 11/10
Celtic Win: 4/6
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