Rangers have not only punched above their weight but also stunned the football world by making it to the Europa League semifinals defeating Braga on aggregate. But the struggle continues in the Premiership as they are six points behind Celtic with successive Old Firm derby defeats under Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
While the Celts are likely to reclaim the league crown after losing it to Rangers last year, the upcoming meeting at Hampden Park would serve the Gers an opportunity to seek revenge in the Scottish Cup semifinal. The Hoops are chasing a domestic treble and the Light Blues must stop them from achieving the feat despite a gruelling 120 minutes on Thursday night.
Celtic Vs Rangers Tactical Preview
The Hoops have adopted an eye-catching flexible and free-flowing football under Ange Postecoglou. Their relentless runs, quick transitions and counter-pressing are earning them results, also the injury absence of Alfredo Morelos would be a relieving factor for the Celtic defence. They restricted Rangers’ wing-play earlier this month and the same defensive resilience should be repeated on Sunday afternoon to frustrate their bitter rivals.
Rangers must show more bravery and directness, particularly after their Ibrox defeat a couple of weeks ago. They had a perfect start when Aaron Ramsey fired in within minutes of the kickoff, however, the Bhoys soon grabbed an equalizer and settled in before making it 2-1 late in the first half. The Light Blues could not test Joe Hart enough all throughout the second half and their end product must improve this weekend to avoid another setback.
Although involved last weekend against St. Johnstone as a late substitute, Postecoglou might restore Kyogo Furuhashi to the starting XI following Giorgos Giakoumakis’ injury woes. David Turnbull is fit enough for their Hampden trip having recovered from a heavy knock.
Celtic Predicted XI
Joe Hart; Josip Juranovic, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Carl Starfelt, Greg Taylor; Callum McGregor, Tom Rogic, Reo Hatate; Filipe Jota, Kyogo Furuhashi, Daizen Maeda.
Morelos’ absence is a major blow for the Gers, and the manager might rely on Kemar Roofe once again for his poaching traits in the attacking third. Filip Helander is sidelined with another long-term injury, whereas Borna Barisic is a massive doubt after limping off the pitch against Braga. Ianis Hagi underwent knee surgery that rules him out for the season.
Rangers Predicted XI
Allan McGregor; James Tavernier, Connor Goldson, Leon Balogun, Calvin Bassey; John Lundstram, Ryan Jack; Joe Aribo, Aaron Ramsey, Ryan Kent; Kemar Roofe.
The Japanese attacking duo of Furuhashi and Maeda would keep the opponents on their toes. The headstrong defending of Cameron Carter-Vickers might frustrate the Gers once more. The vision of skipper Callum McGregor, along with Tom Rogic’s creative spark, should see them dominate the show in the middle of the park.
Kemar Roofe netted a hat-trick last week against St. Mirren, and also scored the decisive extra-time goal against Braga a couple of days back. Ryan Kent must exhibit his excellence from the wide and the midfield pair of John Lundstram and Ryan Jack should nullify Celtic’s press to dictate the show from the centre of the pitch.
The bookies have put Rangers at 21/10 to emerge as the winners. The draw has been listed as 11/5, whereas the Bhoys have been backed at 23/20 to script a triumph.
It’s tough to predict the outcome of an Old Firm derby but we expect a 2-1 victory for Celtic in this epic semifinal battle.