Celtic v Rangers: Scottish Cup semi-final preview

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Murty has a recorded two draws and a loss against Rodgers.

Murty has a recorded two draws and a loss against Rodgers.

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Old Firm rivals Celtic and Rangers go head-to-head in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden on Sunday.

Brendan Rodgers’ side are looking to close in on achieving a second successive treble while Graeme Murty, in his first Hampden appearance as a manager, will be looking to take one step towards giving his club their first major trophy in eight years.

Since taking over as Celtic boss in 2016, the former Liverpool manager has yet to lose in nine Old Firm fixtures, winning seven of them. The two draws have come under Murty’s tenure at Parkhead.

The Ibrox side currently sit second in the league table, whilst the Hoops need only one win from their remaining five matches to clinch the Premiership title for the seventh year in a row.

Last year, a late Tom Rogic goal saw Celtic overcome Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final to lift the trophy, and Rodgers will be hoping to repeat that cup success.

Meanwhile, Rangers haven’t lifted the trophy since 2009, though they came close in 2016, suffering late defeat to Hibs in the final.

On route to that final, Mark Warburton’s Rangers’ side managed to eliminate Ronnie Deila’s team on penalties at the semi-final stage.

Will Rodgers continue his impressive Old Firm run or can Rangers prevent a first-ever domestic back-to-back treble and book their place in the final?

Key Players

Moussa Dembele has scored six Old Firm goals.

Moussa Dembele has scored six Old Firm goals.

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Scott Brown

The Hoops skipper hasn’t looked back since joining Celtic in 2007, picking up 14 medals in 11 seasons at Parkhead.

The influential 32-year-old revels in the intensity of the Old Firm atmosphere and knows as much as anyone just how much this fixture means.

His experience helps his teammates around him and his presence in the centre of the pitch means it will be a tough afternoon for the opposition.

Brown will be one to look out for as he strives to ensure the back-to-back treble remains possible.

Moussa Dembele

Dembele was Rodgers’ first signing when he arrived at Parkhead

It didn’t take long to show why Rodgers’ was keen to get him through the door as the Frenchman rattled in 32 goals in his first season at Celtic.

He hasn’t matched those heights this season with a return of 14 goals but the former Fulham striker often reserves his best performances for big matches.

The 21-year-old has notched six Old Firm goals and marked his debut in the fixture with a hat-trick in their 5-1 demolition last September.

Morelos has scored 14 league goals this season.

Morelos has scored 14 league goals this season.

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Jamie Murphy

Murphy has made a blistering start to his Rangers career after he signed for his boyhood team on-loan from Brighton in January.

The 29-year-old has netted five goals for the Ibrox side since his arrival and earned his first international cap for Scotland against Costa Rica in March.

In his Old Firm debut in March, Murphy was a constant threat to the Celtic rearguard and he will be one to watch on Saturday as Rangers try to knock their Glasgow rivals out of the cup.

Alfredo Morelos

The 21-year-old striker has adapted well to life in Glasgow, as he is the second top goal scorer in the Premiership with 14 goals.

The Colombian has become the main striker at Ibrox with his work-rate and physical presence posing problems for defences around Scotland.

In the last Old Firm clash, Morelos gave Dedryck Boyata a difficult time but was guilty of missing a gilt-edged chance to tie the game with seconds remaining.

The ex-Helsinki front man will be looking to net his first goal against Celtic and banish thoughts of his previous misses to the past.

Form

Celtic won 3-2 at Ibrox in the last Old Firm clash.

Celtic won 3-2 at Ibrox in the last Old Firm clash.

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Rangers trail leaders Celtic by 13 points in the Scottish Premiership and their recent head-to-head record is also a cause of concern for Graeme Murty.

The Ibrox side knocked their rivals out of the Scottish Cup on penalties in 2016 but their last 90-minute victory over Celtic was in March 2012.

Whilst Rangers have had mixed form this season, Brendan Rodgers’ men have lost only two games in domestic competition – a 4-0 defeat away to Hearts and 1-0 to Steve Clarke’s Kilmarnock.

Since the sides last met at Ibrox when Celtic ran out 3-2 winners, the Old Firm pair haven’t recorded back-to-back victories – Celtic have drawn two and won two whilst Rangers have won one, lost one, and drawn one.

This season, the Old Firm clashes have been much closer than the last campaign where Celtic recorded two 5-1 victories over their rivals.

2017/18 Head to head

Sunday, March 11, 2018: Rangers 2-3 Celtic

Saturday, December 30, 2017: Celtic 0-0 Rangers

Saturday, September 23, 2017: Rangers 0-2 Celtic

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