Six most important players in Sunday’s Rangers v Motherwell semi-final

Bruno Alves against Louis Moult should be a right ding-dong battle. Picture: SNS
Bruno Alves against Louis Moult should be a right ding-dong battle. Picture: SNS
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To help you look forward to Sunday’s Betfred Cup clash at Hampden, we look at the players most likely to have a bearing on the final outcome.

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Bruno Alves (Rangers)

The veteran centre-back enjoyed his best game in a Rangers jersey in the victory over St Johnstone last week and he can start to build some real momentum with another fine showing this time around. Motherwell have preferred to use Louis Moult and Ryan Bowman in attack in recent weeks. The gameplan revolves around getting the ball up to the pair quickly, who’re more than a handful for most defenders in the league. The same can be said of Graham Cummins and Steven MacLean at Saints, yet Alves rose to the challenge and won the physical battle in his last outing. What’s more, his organisation of the back-line, with Lee Wallace still sidelined, will be key to Rangers’ chances.

Chris Cadden (Motherwell)

The midfielder has been mostly played at wing-back since Motherwell made their three-man defence a permanent feature following a half-time change in the 2-0 victory over Ross County earlier in the season. Cadden, thought of as more suited to the centre, has previously struggled to make as much of an impact in the wide areas, though things have been a little different this term. Having to cover the whole of the flank, rather than just half of it as the right winger, allows him to utilise his speed and stamina. He’s got one of the most high-powered engines in the league and is an equal threat to charge past the opposing full-back, in this case Declan John, in the first minute as well as the last. What’s more, if Motherwell are going to be under the cosh for any period of time, he’s the type of player than can turn defence into attack in an instant.

Allan Campbell (Motherwell)

Rangers will look to assert themselves in this game, and dictate possession for long periods. That will be no easy task against a Motherwell side full of running in the starting XI, particularly in the centre of the park. There’s nothing the 19-year-old Campbell does better than hunting down an opponent and robbing him of possession. An excellent tackler and energetic presence, he epitomises the fearlessness in this young Motherwell squad. Aside from disrupting the game in the centre Campbell, along with the dynamic Andy Rose, will look to get forward and support the strikers.

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Daniel Candeias (Rangers)

The most consistent crosser in the Scottish Premiership this season, Candeias has swung the ball into the penalty area 62 times. That’s ten more than his Motherwell counterpart, Richard Tait, in second place.

These two sides are first and second in total crosses this season - Motherwell hold the edge, 218-176, with roughly the same accuracy - so it’s fair to say whichever team has the better deliveries on the day is likely to win the contest. Promisingly for Rangers, they have two players topping the assist board (alongside Motherwell centre-midfielder Gael Bigirimana) on the right flank, as Candeias and James Tavernier have combined for six so far this league season.

Alfredo Morelos (Rangers)

Even though he hasn’t scored in four games, nobody could accuse the Colombian of failing to do his part for the team. With each week he’s looking comfortable in the lone striker role, and still had a significant impact in the recent victory over St Johnstone, even if he failed to find the back of the net. His hold-up play and ability to roll defenders is particularly impressive. Peter Hartley may be up for the fight, but he cannot be overzealous in his closing down of the Rangers striker, who could turn away from him in an instant if he gets too close.

Louis Moult (Motherwell)

Moult has knocked in nine goals in 14 appearances this season, including a double against Aberdeen in the last round to set up this clash at Hampden. As close to the complete forward as you’re going to get in the Scottish Premiership outside Glasgow, Moult is equally adept at fighting through opposing defenders as he is at evading them. Motherwell will need him to compete in the physical battle with Alves and Fabio Cardoso if the underdogs are going to win the territorial battle - but they don’t necessarily need him to do that to win the game, as he can pop up with the winner at a moment’s notice.

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