Celtic and Rangers roundtable as Chris Sutton and Barry Ferguson answer 10 big Scottish Cup questions

It’s Derby day in Glasgow once again as Celtic and Rangers duel for a place in the Scottish Cup final.

Victory in the match could put the Parkhead club on course for a fifth treble in six seasons while Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men will be on a high after their Europa League quarter final success on Thursday.

Both sides will have fond memories of the fixture but Ange Postecoglou’s men have had the better of the previous two meetings.

Old Firm heroes Chris Sutton and Barry Ferguson give RecordSport their verdicts.

1. What’s your favorite Old Firm memory?

CHRIS: I’ve got two. Scoring inside the opening minute of the 6-2 game was a special moment and an incredible day. But it’s a tie with my last-minute goal scored at Celtic Park to complete the green and white wash, when we pumped Rangers in all five games that season.

BARRY: That’s a hard one. Scoring my first goal against them at Ibrox was special. But the best of all time was the Scottish Cup Final in 2002. We were 2-1 down in the second half when I scored with a free-kick before Peter Lovenkrands got the winner in injury time. That was the very last touch of the ball, in the last minute of the last game of the season against our biggest rivals. It actually doesn’t get any better than that.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – APRIL 15: Callum McGregor during a Celtic training session at Lennoxtown, on April 15, 2022, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group)

2. Where will this one be won and lost?

CHRIS: On the pitch. Seriously? I’m looking at the Celtic penalty box. If they can defend their area the way they did at Ibrox then it could be a tough day for Rangers as Celtic have the attack to hurt them at the other end. There are fascinating battles all over and it could come down to Jota against James Tavernier, Greg Taylor v Joe Aribo as the wide areas will be crucial.

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BARRY: Where they almost always are – in the middle of the pitch. There’s so much quality in that area but, for me, Callum McGregor and Tom Rogic are the guys who can control it for Celtic. But I’d like to see them up against Ryan Jack and Steven Davis. Those guys know how to dictate a game of football when the heat is really on.

3. Will Celtic’s Ibrox win givethem the psychological edge?

CHRIS: No. It’s a new game and it shouldn’t matter what happened last time out. Rangers should be motivated to make amends but it’s all about who handles the pressure on the day. There is little between the sides and it could go either way.

BARRY: And it is. They’re big favorites in my eyes. They played Rangers off the pitch at Parkhead in a game I would rather forget about. The score could have been anything for half the time. They then went to Ibrox and came away with three points so they will definitely have a psychological advantage. But that also means the pressure is right on them. The question is, can they handle it?

4. If Giorgos Giakoumakis is unfit, should Ange Postecoglou take a chance with Kyogo from the start?

CHRIS: It depends on what Postecoglou has been seen from Kyogo in training. He might be flying and can go straight back in but it looks like an unnecessary risk. Daizen Maeda has been in good form and his pace and constant pressing on him can cause problems for the Rangers defense. Kyogo looked fairly sharp when he came on against St Johnstone but it’s tough to hit the ground running in such a huge game after nearly four months out.

BARRY: There’s a strong argument he will start regardless of whether the big Greek is fit or not. Kyogo was available for selection at Ibrox but Postecoglou didn’t want to rush him back too soon. Since then he’s had a couple of weeks of training and a 15-minute run-out against St Johnstone. I have no doubt in my mind he’ll start if Giakoumakis doesn’t make it. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see them both in Celtic’s attack.

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5. Can Rangers’ European exertions, allied to Celtic having a free week, have any bearing on the outcome?

CHRIS: No, not necessarily. It’s the business end of the season and a Scottish Cup semi-final. Rangers should take confidence from their European run. There shouldn’t be an issue when it comes to tiredness.

BARRY: That depends if anyone picked up bumps or bruises on Thursday but fatigue won’t come into this at all. A Scottish Cup semi-final against them? At Hampden? They could play Braga again on Saturday night and still get through Sunday on sheer adrenaline alone.

Kemar Roofe celebrates his goal.
Kemar Roofe celebrates scoring in extra time to make it 3-1.

6. Kemar Roofe barely dented the Celtic backline at Ibrox. Should GVB give him another crack?

CHRIS: And it is. He didn’t get much joy against Celtic but he scored a hat-trick the other week and deserved his goal against Braga. He still looks the most natural choice.

BARRY: Yes, 100 per cent. I felt for Roofe in the last Old Firm game as, not only was he isolated, he also went into that match with hardly any minutes in his legs. He got on the pitch against Celtic and in Braga, hit a hat-trick at St Mirren and a got goal on Thursday. He’s got his sharpness from him back and he will go into this feeling like a different player.

7. Will the crowd being split 50-50 make a difference to the spectacle?

CHRIS: And it is. Goes without saying it will be better.

BARRY: Absolutely. I always loved it when there were 8000 fans away at the league matches but when Hampden is split right down the middle it creates an unbelievable atmosphere.

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8. Can the strength in depth to come off the bench be a factor?

CHRIS: And it is. If Celtic can bring on the likes of Kyogo, Matt O’Riley and Liel Abada it could make a difference. Rangers could also have options but some might need to step up.

BARRY: Yes, for both teams. In recent times it’s been pretty easy to name the two strongest starting line-ups. But that’s not the case now. There will be a lot of quality left on the bench and any one of these players could come on and make a huge impact. One could easily be a match winner.

9. If it were to go to penalties, who is the hero – Hart or McGregor?

CHRIS: I don’t know. It’s a lottery and there are so many factors. A lot of it is luck with keepers as well, and whoever guesses right.

BARRY: It’s got to be Greegsy for me as he’s a real penalty specialist. It might also be scripted for my old mate as there’s a chance this might be his last season of him. I wouldn’t bet against him going out as a hero on Old Firm day.

10.Scoreline prediction?

CHRIS: See above. I think it could go all the way to extra time and penalties. There really isn’t much between the sides, despite the last couple of results. Rangers have stumbled but they have shown in Europe they are a more than decent side and anything can happen on the day. It will be down to who produces the goods when it matters, but it could come down to anything from a moment of magic or a moment of madness. It’s impossible to predict.

BARRY: I can see it ending all square at 2-2 after 90 minutes with Rangers winning it 3-2 in extra time. That’s my kind of Sunday!


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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