With less than two weeks to go until the Scottish Cup semi-final clash between Rangers and Celtic anticipation is growing ahead of the biggest Old Firm battle in recent memory.
The Glasgow giants are set to square-off for only the second time in four years on April 17 and the sporting world is buzzing with predictions, discussions, arguments and disagreements about how it’s going to pan out.
This latest tussle looks far less than clear cut than the previous encounter but we’re going to do our best to address a few of the hot topics.
And that’s why we’ve looked at both sides’ roster of talent to determine exactly where this game will be won and lost.
Gers defenders Danny Wilson and Rob Kiernan are in for one of the toughest games of their Rangers careers when they come up against Celtic’s prolific hitman, Leigh Griffiths.
Griffiths has lit up the Scottish Premiership having scored 26 league goals already this season. Add to that his five cup goals and you’ve got the Bhoys’ best striker since Henrik Larsson.
On the other hand, Rangers’ forward line could be cause for concern. With the Light Blues likely to be without top-scorer Martyn Waghorn, Kenny Miller could be the man to lead the line.
Miller has plenty of experience to call on and could well use his lightning quick pace to exploit Celtic’s shaky defensive partnership of Dedryck Boyata and Erik Sviatchenko.
Derby matches are often won and lost in the middle of the park. Both outfits giving their all but not giving an inch.
You only need to look at the history of the Old Firm fixture to see the likes of Barry Ferguson v Neil Lennon or Nuno Capucho v Liam Miller.
OK, maybe not that last one but Ferguson/Lennon was arguably the tastiest clash between two players who loved their club more than anything else.
These days it might not be quite as furious but with Celtic captain Scott Brown and Rangers holding-man Andy Halliday in the mix, there is a comparison to be drawn from the days of Celtic and Rangers battling it out for all the silverware available.
The gallous Brown and the feisty Halliday both love pulling on the jersey of their respective teams and would love nothing more than to drive their side into the Scottish Cup final with a win over their rivals.
Another midfield joust that will be a little different than Brown/Halliday could be between Jason Holt and Nir Bitton.
If these two start, we could witness something altogether different from the brawl that would be going on beside them. Both players bring a more elegant quality to the fore.
However, don’t expect them to be passers-by.
You can’t talk about the Old Firm in recent years without mentioning the name Kris Commons. The midfield playmaker loves playing against Rangers and has a record that proves exactly that. With four Old Firm goals to his name including the second of the two last season, don’t be surprised if Ronny Deila selects him and he does it again.
Celtic’s youngster Callum McGregor has been in fine form this season with a handful of goals and assists to his name. The 22-year old has never sampled a Glasgow derby like this before however and could play a pivotal role if given the nod.
Rangers captain Lee Wallace has been brilliant at left-back all year long and has extensive Old Firm experience. The Gers’ number five has previously scored in this fixture, but has been on the winning side just once in his four outings.
Barrie McKay is a contender for Championship Player of the Season and could put his skills to use in an Old Firm tussle with Celtic’s Kieran Tierney.
While Tierney has been a shining light in the Hoops’ difficult season, McKay has been running rough-shod over the Championship in an impressive Rangers team.
If McKay starts against Celtic, he could be one of the players to have the biggest impact on what is already be a mouth-watering derby.
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