Rangers vs CelticScottish League Cup, KO: 15:00 Dec 8, 2019, Hampden Park
BOTH Rangers and Celtic have been playing with fluency and ferocity this season, however, something will have to give on Sunday when these two fierce rivals battle it out for the Betfred Cup.
The two Glasgow giants will go toe-to-toe in a Hampden humdinger in what is arguably the most significant Old Firm derby of the decade.
Steven Gerrard and Neil Lennon have seen their respective sides locked together at the top of the Scottish Premiership for the majority of the season, however, a last-gasp goal from Celtic skipper Scott Brown against Hamilton in midweek, coupled with Rangers collapse away at Aberdeen, has seen the Hoops open up a two point lead over the Gers at the top of the table.
Consequently, Lennon will lead his side to Mount Florida in search of a 12th consecutive victory across all competitions with a view to bagging Celtic's 10th domestic trophy on the spin.
However, standing in Celtic's way of yet more silverware is a Rangers side who have made huge strides under the stewardship of Steven Gerrard.
The Liverpool legend has made the Light Blues competitive at home and on the continent, however, the Ibrox faithful are itching for a first major trophy in eight years.
Gerrard's influence has reignited the most intense local rivalry in world football and lifting the League Cup on Sunday would etch the Rangers manager into the club's folklore in the process.
The Betting Odds
Celtic's long-standing supremacy in Scottish football can perhaps be attributed to the treble Treble winners entering this cup final as 13/10 (Betfred) favourites, whereas a Teddy Bears triumph in 90 minutes pays 21/10 (Betfred) with the same firm.
Alternatively, if you fancy thee two familiar foes to set up a grandstand finish by forcing extra time and potential penalty-kicks, then the draw can be backed at 13/5 (Bet 365)
The Betting Angles
The Old Firm derby is notoriously difficult to call – this particular meeting is the toughest one to predict in many a year – and if pushed, I wouldn't be surprised to see Scotland's heavyweights go the distance at the national stadium.
Therefore, from a betting perspective, I'm going to focus on some alternative angles with the aim of generating profit from what is sure to be a pulsating spectacle.
In the sole meeting of the season so far – a 2-0 win for Lennon's champs at Ibrox – I successfully tipped Celtic to score and to take four or more corners – and I'm going to revisit a similar punt on Sunday.
Combining a Celtic goal and over 4.5 Celtic corners pays 9/10 (McBookie) and those odds appeal given that Celtic have scored two or more goals in their last 13 matches, not to mention, the Hoops have taken five or more corners in all but one of the aforementioned sequence.
Rangers struggled to lay a glove on Lennon's troops during the opening derby of the season, however, the Light Blues will be a different proposition this time around with Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent leading their attack – both men were notable absentees from Rangers starting XI against Celtic back in September.
Both sides have scored in only two of the last 10 meetings, however, given the wealth of attacking talent both managers have their disposal – both teams are averaging over three goals per-game in the league – I suspect both rivals could get on the scoresheet on Sunday afternoon.
Backing both teams to score looks a little skinny at 7/10 (Bet 365) however, you can boost those odds up to 5/6 (McBookie) by adding each team to take a corner and each team to receive a card – both of which look feasible.
Like most derby matches it may pay dividends to delve into the card markets – even more so with controversial Willie Collum being the man in the middle for this clash of the titans.
Given the occasion and what's at stake, tempers could flare in this cup final – six red cards have been flashed in the last 15 Old Firm derbies – and a cup final red card pays 5/2 (McBookie)
No player can be ruled out for a caution when these old adversary's lock horns, however, I like the look of the 13/8 (McBookie) on offer for Borna Barisic to be booked.
The Croatian left-back has had his name taken five times already this season and he has only started one Old Firm derby since arriving Scotland – he was booked on that occasion – and he looks like a good candidate for a card when coming up against Celtic's flying right sided duo of James Forrest and Jeremie Frimpong.
This Scottish League Cup match between Rangers and Celtic will be played on Dec 8, 2019 and kick off at 15:00