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Scottish Cup final 2024: Celtic v Rangers – preview, lineups, how to watch and prediction

Can Celtic's cruise continue or will Rangers cause an upset?

Rangers and Celtic football badges

The big story

Twenty-two years since Celtic and Rangers last contested the Scottish Cup Final, the Old Firm rivals meet again at Hampden Park – and if this encounter can come close to the drama of that 2002 encounter, the traditional end to the Scottish season could prove a classic.

Celtic twice took the lead – including John Hartson’s opener – in 2002. Rangers required two minutes to equalise on the first occasion and 19 on the second, then won the game when Peter Lovenkrands’ second goal settled the showdown in the 90th minute.

The most humdrum of wins would particularly suit Rangers right now after a humbling campaign against their arch-rivals, collecting a point from the four games between the dominant teams in the Scottish Premiership.

Rangers were top of the league table at the end of February but had a relatively dismal run-in, starting with a 2-1 home defeat to Motherwell as part of a slump comprising four wins in 10 matches.

In one of those games, they conceded within seconds to Celtic and fell 2-0 behind by the break at Ibrox. They proceeded to haul themselves level in the 86th minute, conceded again a minute later and secured a 3-3 draw in the 93rd minute of an epic second half.

That was the only game of their final nine when Celtic did not take maximum points, fully capitalising on Rangers’ rotten run to canter to the title by eight points.

If Rangers find little cause for confidence on the basis of form, they will surely be fully versed in all of the accepted adages about the one-off unpredictability a final brings, reminding themselves of that ding-dong draw and the fact that all of their defeats in the fixture they want to win most this season have been by a goal.

Celtic have every reason to be brimming with belief and expectation. Manager Brendan Rodgers has won the Scottish Cup twice with them, while Rangers’ Philippe Clement is still in his first season in Scotland.

The Hoops have lifted the trophy in four of the last six seasons, although Rangers triumphed two seasons ago, prevailing for the first time since 2008/09.

Celtic v Rangers Scottish Cup final kick-off time

This match will start at 3pm BST on Saturday, May 25 2024.

Celtic v Rangers team news, lineups

Celtic’s only minor injury concern at the start of the week was a shoulder injury suffered by Stephen Welsh against St Mirren on Saturday, but the centre-back has returned to training.

Their bill of clean health stands in sharp contrast to Rangers, who are likely to again have players out in every area of the pitch as part of an injury list which has contributed to their poor results.

Defenders John Souttar, Connor Goldson and Borna Barisic, wingers Oscar Cortes and Rabbi Matondo and forwards Tom Lawrence and Danilo are among the players likely to miss out.

Clement has suggested that he may have to take risks on players who are in far from ideal physical condition. Defender Leon Balogun and midfielder Ryan Jack, however, have returned from injuries.

Celtic possible starting XI (4-3-3): Hart; Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Scales, Taylor; McGregor, Hatate, O’Riley; Forrest, Kyogo, Maeda

Rangers possible starting XI (4-2-3-1): Butland; Tavernier, King, Davies, Yilmaz; Diomande, Raskin; McCausland, Cantwell, Silva; Dessers

Prediction

With one defeat since December 16, Celtic should have too much again for a Rangers side whose underdog status also reflects their depleted squad.

Rodgers has been sensible to warn against complacency and it would not be a surprise to see this game decided by a goal again – just as it was in last-gasp fashion 22 years ago.

Picture of Ben Miller

Ben Miller

Ben has more than 10 years' experience in sports journalism, covering two EURO tournaments, European club competitions, the Premier League, EFL and WSL and a variety of other major sporting events.

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