Three reasons why Celtic should worry about Rangers

Rangers FC - Ibrox

We look at some reasons why Mark Warburton's Rangers can beat Scottish Premiership champions Celtic in the semi-final of Scottish Cup.

Hampden Park plays host on Sunday as Celtic and Rangers renew hostilities in order to determine which Glasgow giant moves into the Scottish Cup final.

By virtue of the fact that Ronny Deila's boys are still technically a league above the newly-promoted Gers for the moment, the Hoops will be big favourites to progress, but Rangers - 14 points clear in the Scottish Championship - have lost just four of their 43 games in all competitions this season and cannot be ruled out.

The Bhoys, on course for a fifth successive Premiership title, have looked hugely resillient in recent weeks, with three of their last four league victories coming by a one-goal margin to illustrate why they are defending champions, but Rangers can deny them a prospective double and here's three reasons why.

The lack of pressure:

Rangers are not expected to win, and considering how devastating Mark Warburton's side have been when the pressure's been on - and it's been on them in nigh-on every single game this season - the prospect of a relaxed Rangers, one without the huge expectation resting on their shoulders, should worry the Hoops.

Shortly after dismantling Peterhead 4-0 in the Petrofac Cup final on Sunday, Warburton, via The Glasgow Evening Times, reminded the media and Deila of the reasons they're favourites: “It’s a tough game next week against a team that is number one in the country, has had Champions League football and has a squad packed with international players. We know all that. All we can do is come here, be the best we can be and deliver a performance. That is our aim next week.”

It was a shrewd move by the ex-Brentford boss, whose words almost read like he is giving Rangers permission to enjoy themselves above all else. Of course, he'll be desperate to win as his side chase a treble, but playing down their chances is certainly an intelligent way to go about it. They're the underdogs, and Warburton won't let them forget it over the next six days.

 

Winning would send huge message to summer transfer targets:

With Rangers set for a top-flight return next season, it might well be a busy summer for Warburton on the transfer front. After winning promotion, he confirmed to STV that he wants "four or five" new players, but luring big talent to Ibrox will be easier if the manager can sell them the idea of challenging Celtic for the Scottish Premiership - and it's a hard sell if Rangers get humiliated on Sunday.

His transfer targets will use the performance and result as a reference to gauge how big the gap is between both sides. Rangers wouldn't only be winning a semi-final on Sunday - they'd also be winning the imagination of their targets and life at Ibrox next term would look significantly more attractive if they beat Celtic.

Indeed, winning promotion should breed a sense of insecurity among his existing players. It's a big chance for his best XI to show how hungry they are to be involved for the club's big return next season, and Warburton, like his targets, might use the display to gauge which of his playing staff could struggle with the step up in class.

The taste for trophies:

Sunday's victory at Hampden was their second trophy in the space of five days, having beaten Dumbarton last Tuesday to clinch the Scottish Championship - a title which had looked on the cards for most of the season.

Rangers, under Warburton, are rapidly acquiring a taste for the silver stuff and such habits are hard to break. They have the chance to move within 90 minutes of winning a treble on Sunday and the Ibrox club will not let that ambition pass without a scrap - a feisty one.

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