Talking points as Celtic face Old Firm foes Rangers in Scottish Cup semi-final

Celtic take on Old Firm rivals Rangers in a Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park on Sunday.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the main talking points ahead of another keenly awaited derby clash.

fatigue factor

Celtic scored seven goals past St Johnstone in their last outing (Andrew Milligan/PA)

(PA Wire)

Preparations have been markedly different for both sides. Celtic have had a free week to recover from their efforts in thrashing St Johnstone 7-0 last week in the cinch Premiership while Rangers took 120 minutes to beat Braga in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie at Ibrox on Thursday night. The Light Blues ended the game exhausted – Borna Barisic had to go off before the end of the regulation 90 minutes with cramp – and boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst will have to assess his squad before he picks his side.

Fifty fifty fans

The fans are back (Ian Rutherford/PA)

(PA Archive)

Recent years have seen the away support at Old Firm games cut to around 700 or 800 and indeed at times there has been a complete absence of a traveling contingent. As a consequence, the atmosphere has been changed at those Glasgow derbies at Ibrox and Celtic Park. Sunday will be different. There will be a 50-50 split of supporters inside the national stadium which will bring a more traditional look and feel to the Glasgow derby.

Kyogo to start?

Kyogo Furuhashi participation could be key for Celtic (Steve Welsh/PA)

(PA Wire)

Hoops boss Ange Postecoglou has confirmed that Greek striker Giorgos Giakoumakis will miss the match against Rangers through injury. Japan international Kyogo Furuhashi returned as a substitute against St Johnstone last week after being out since Boxing Day with a recurrence of a hamstring problem. Postecoglou has said the popular attacker is not fit enough for 90 minutes or 120 minutes – but will he start? Or will Postecoglou bring Japan’s Daizen Maeda into the center from out wide, where he did a good job of stifling James Tavernier in the last Old Firm game.

Implications of winning and losing

Rangers last won the Scottish Cup in 2009, beating Falkirk in the final (Lynne Cameron/PA)

(PA Archive)

There are lots of subplots around the game. Rangers have not won the Scottish Cup since 2009 – a lamentable statistic for one of the two giants of the Scottish game – and they are desperate to bring the trophy back to Ibrox. Moreover, beating Celtic in the semi-final would prevent the Hoops from winning the domestic treble. Postecoglou’s men have already captured the League Cup this season and are six points clear of Rangers at the top of the Premiership with only five fixtures remaining. Celtic know that getting past Rangers to face either Hearts or Hibernian in the final gives them a great chance of winning the fifth treble in six years.

What does the form say?

Rangers were boosted on Thursday when they beat Braga to secure a Europa League semi-final tie against RB Leipzig. The 3-1 win after extra-time followed a 4-0 win at St Mirren last Sunday. However, the 2-1 defeat by Celtic at Ibrox the week before that is still fresh on the minds of Rangers players and fans. The Hoops have not lost a domestic game since going down at Livingston last September and are looking unstoppable, evidenced by their mauling of St Johnstone last Saturday.

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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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