Keep your eye on the ball

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has told his players to ignore the hype and focus on the football ahead of their eagerly-awaited game against Rangers.

The teams meet for the first time since Rangers were liquidated in 2012 and Pittodrie is sold out for the Premiership encounter on Sunday.

Previous Aberdeen-Rangers fixtures always carried an edge on and off the park over the years and absence has done nothing to ease the rivalry.

The game carries extra significance given Aberdeen are looking to maintain their position as Celtic’s main challengers following Rangers’ promotion and McInnes wants his side to be composed when necessary on Sunday.

He told Red TV: “It’s important that we see it as a game. It’s a game that has been eagerly anticipated. It’s always a bit tasty for both sets of players and both sets of supporters, but it is only a game.

“It’s a game we want to win and we will concentrate on the game. The atmosphere will be great, it’s a sell-out, good rivalry between the supporters, but the game is what it’s about for us.”

Both sides go into the game in high spirits following midweek Betfred Cup wins.

Rangers produced by far their most fluid performance of the season when beating Queen of the South 5-0 on Tuesday night, and the Dons celebrated a last-minute winner against St Johnstone on Thursday to set up a semi-final meeting with Morton.

McInnes said: “We have got to try and do our best to get on top of a good team. They are well-managed, they were very impressive on Tuesday night, they have only lost once this season, like ourselves, and that was against Celtic.

“It will be fiercely competitive, it will be tight, there will be a lot of good players on show and it’s important we bring a good performance.”

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