The prospect of regular Old Firm derbies is all the motivation Rangers need to fight tooth and nail to reclaim their place in the Scottish top flight but in Hibernian they have a huge obstacle to overcome.
Hibs finished above Rangers in the Scottish Championship this season and that was thanks in no small part to a trio of victories over Stuart McCall’s men.
The Ibrox outfit may have taken the spoils in a 2-0 away win last time the sides met but Hibs’ victories – by scorelines of 2-0, 4-0 and 3-1 – show that on their day Alan Stubbs’ squad are more than a match for the Gers.
And if the head-to-head record doesn’t concern Gers fans – after all the playoffs are a different game entirely – then the form going into this two-legged tie might.
While it’s true that Rangers are unbeaten in seven games they have won just three of those matches and scraped through the last round of the playoffs via a 1-1 draw with Queen of the South in front of their own fans.
Hibs, by contrast, have recently tasted defeat – a 1-0 loss to Falkirk in the Scottish Cup – but that game aside they have won five on the bounce in the league and in convincing fashion of late.
Wins over Livingston, Alloa Athletic and Falkirk – by scorelines of 3-1, 4-0 and 3-0 respectively – have got the Edinburgh club riding a wave of confidence into this crunch fixture.
And finally it could all come down to pressure. After finishing higher than Rangers in the league there will be a certain level of expectation around Edinburgh on Stubbs’ side to emerge victorious.
However, while on paper you’d have to say Hibs – 21/10 to win the first leg – look the safer bet, the pressure Rangers will be under will be incomparable.
As one half of the Glasgow powerhouse that has propelled Scottish football for the last 30 years Rangers, priced at 5/4 to win on Wednesday, will be all too aware of how their actions could affect the illustrious history of the club.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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