Griffiths to continue sensational scoring record in Celtic Old Firm win
Robbie Purves | April 15, 2016
Rangers v Celtic
- Scottish Cup semi-final
- Sunday, April 17th
- Kick Off: 12:00 BST
- Hampden Park, Glasgow
- Live on Sky Sports 2
Celtic quality to shine through
The biggest match in Scottish football is back with the latest installant kicking off this Sunday, in a Scottish FA Cup semi-final at Hampden.
Last time out Celtic came out convincing 2-0 winners, the gulf in quality was evident and vast. However, the upcoming clash now has added significance as Rangers are coming up after sealing top-flight football for next year. It could give us a great glimpse of how Gers may fair next season and how worried Hoops should be.
Both teams eased into the semis; Gers defeated Dundee 4-0 in the quarter-final and the Bhoys joined them by seeing off Greenock Morton 3-0.
Celtic sit top of the Scottish Premiership, eight points ahead of the chasing Aberdeen and are unbeaten in their last 10 games in all competitions. Coral have them odds on at 4/6 to triumph over their Glasgow neighbours and lift the Scottish Cup.
However, this game is not foregone conclusion as Mark Warburton’s men are flying this season. The ex-Brentford boss introduced an attacking style when he took over last summer.
Warburton carefully nurtured a relatively small group of players and moulded them into a fast-passing, athletic, ruthless unit. The Teddy Bears have been beaten just once in their last 15 league games and are 4/1 to defeat Ronny Deila’s Hoops and lift the cup.
Griffiths to clip wings of high-flying Gers
With 37 goals in all competitions this year, Leigh Griffiths is on course for his second Player of the Year award in four years. Last weekend, he bagged a brace at Motherwell and will hope to follow up the goal he struck against Gers in last year’s League Cup semi.
Scotland’s most deadly forward Griffiths is 3/1 to score first against Celtic’s bitter rivals.
The Ibrox side’s line-up will bare little resemblance to the one beaten 2-0 last time out. However, Rangers defender Rob Kiernan is likely to be the man tasked with shutting down Griffiths. Kiernan is not blessed with rapid speed and could find himself exposed, if Warburton unleashes quality full backs Lee Wallace and James Tavernier.
Gers also possess a potent strike force. The partnership of Martyn Waghorn and Kenny Miller has netted 46 goals in all competitions so far, a tally that pushed the side to promotion.
With playmaker Harry Forrester injured, top scorer Waghorn still struggling for fitness and wingers Billy King and Michael O’Halloran cup-tied, Gers will have to pin their goals hopes on 36-year-old Miller. The veteran has netted seven goals in his 10 appearances against the Hoops and Miller is 9/1 to score last.
Hampden’s key battle
Both sides have a whole host of Old Firm debutants, but two men that know the gravity of the fixture are Andy Halliday and Scott Brown. Halliday was born in Ibrox, a literal stones throw away from the stadium, used to hold a season ticket as a youth and will now get to experience the game for real.
On their prospects next season, Halliday said: “We’ve got to be challenging for the title, that’s not me being arrogant or disrespectful to Celtic at all.”
Rangers will get a chance to test their credentials in this huge clash but will have to be careful not to become overawed by the occasion.
Former player Ian Ferguson said: “It’s so easy to get caught up in the emotion that by the time you get on the park you are drained mentally.”
Brown knows how to win explosive occasions. Fireworks are expected this Sunday, but the warrior central midfielder has won 11 of his 24 games played against Gers and will again be the heartbeat and captain of the Hoops, as they endeavour to win their 37th Scottish Cup.