21 Oct The Glasgow derby
Rangers take on Celtic in the Betfred Cup semi-final at Hampden Park on Sunday.
Here, PLZ Soccer looks at five talking points ahead of the encounter between the Glasgow giants.
1 – HOW DO CELTIC RESPOND AFTER BORUSSIA BEATING?
The Scottish champions are unbeaten domestically but were outclassed by Borussia Monchengladbach in their Champions League Group C clash at Parkhead on Wednesday night. Although defender Kolo Toure contributed to the 2-0 defeat with two mistakes, it was a chastened Hoops side who left the pitch at the end, their pre-match confidence dented and facing a Euro exit. Boss Brendan Rodgers will need to get that defeat out of their system ahead of another huge match.
2- WILL RANGERS BE SCARRED BY 5-1 DEFEAT IN LEAGUE AT CELTIC PARK?
If Celtic need any help to get over the Borussia Monchengladbach defeat, they can look at the 5-1 drubbing of Rangers at Parkhead in September. Moussa Dembele scored a hat-trick as the Light Blues ended the match in a state of chaos with Philippe Senderos having been sent off and assistant manager Davie Weir sent to the stand. The encounter revealed a gap between the two sides, so how will Rangers react on Sunday?
3- RANGERS’ TROUBLE AT THE BACK
Ibrox boss Mark Warburton is still searching for his best centre-back pairing.The experienced summer signing Clint Hill and Rob Kiernan played together in the 1-0 win at Inverness in the Gers’ last outing where the clean sheet was welcome. They will be tested fully by the Ladbrokes Premiership leaders and in particular put under pressure by the pace, power and skill of Dembele.
4- SQUAD SHAPE
Rodgers has a surfeit of players and they are all fit. He has rested experienced defender Kolo Toure on occasion and mixed up his midfield. Will Rodgers bring in Callum McGregor and/or Stuart Armstrong? Patrick Roberts over James Forrest on the wing? Will last season’s top scorer Leigh Griffiths get a start ahead of Dembele? By contrast Rangers are without their two highest-profile summer signings. Joey Barton is currently suspended by the club while Niko Kranjcar is out with a knee injury picked up in training. Although both were poor in the 5-1 defeat at Celtic Park, these games are the reason they were brought to Scotland.
5- HAMPDEN MEMORIES
The national stadium has not been the happiest of hunting grounds for Celtic in recent years, notwithstanding their comfortable 2-0 semi-final win over Rangers in the same competition two seasons ago. The Hoops have played under par in defeats to the likes of Ross County, Kilmarnock, Hearts, Inverness and St Mirren in recent years. And the Light Blues got revenge in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final last season, winning a penalty shoot-out following a 2-2 draw. After all that, Rangers lost the final 3-2 to Hibernian where defensive lapses again proved costly.