Craig Fowler looks at the key players in today’s Old Firm semi-final.
Scott Brown (Celtic)
If Scott Brown plays at his best – and not how he’s been playing for the last few weeks, with the exception of last Saturday’s win at Motherwell – then Rangers don’t stand a chance. He’s the perfect player for disrupting the rhythm and flow of Rangers’ passing in the opposing team’s half. Likewise, his terrific awareness on the ball could enable Celtic to snare the majority of possession.
Leigh Griffiths (Celtic)
It goes without saying that the leading top-flight goalscorer will have a big say in the outcome. In the end, Rangers will likely need a little luck with regards to how they play Griffiths. He will get a chance or two. They just hope that the only real weakness in Griffiths’ penalty box play - his tendency to snatch at some chances and not be as ruthless as his goal tally would suggest - hinders the Celtic star on this stage.
Jason Holt (Rangers)
Rangers will find it harder to keep possession against Celtic than any other side. If they are to stay competitive in that area of the field, which is what Mark Warburton will be wanting to do, then they’ll need Holt to be flawless with his passing. Similar to Brown, he’s someone who shows great awareness, but while Brown is a more static presence who finds the pockets of space with his eyes, Holt uses his body to move into them. He has a tendency to drift out of some games. That cannot happen today.
Kenny Miller (Rangers)
Miller’s enthusiastic closing down of opposing defenders will be key to unnerving Celtic. Show Charlie Mulgrew start then Miller will look to deny the Scottish international time to spray passes and carry the ball up the field from defence. Similarly, if he continues to get into the face of Dedryck Boyata he could spook the undependable Belgian into making another high profile error.
Patrick Roberts (Celtic)
Celtic need someone to step up and be the attacking weapon to supplement Griffiths. Recent form would indicate Roberts is that man. He has the kind of talent unmatched by any other attacking midfielder at Celtic, and, crucially, he is playing with real confidence right now.
James Tavernier (Rangers)
He will want to prove he is capable of repeating his attacking exploits against top-class opponents, while also showing he is no slouch when it comes to the defensive side. Tavernier, more than any other Rangers player, represents the cynicism a lot of people have over this team. Yes, he’s great at Championship level, but can he repeat those performances at a higher level? Today will go a long way to giving an answer.