Struggling Hearts face on-form Rangers in the Betfred Cup semi-final

Craig Levein takes his Hearts side west to Hampden Park this Sunday to meet Steven Gerrard’s Rangers team in the semi-final of the Betfred Cup. Both sides will be hoping to win a place in the final as neither has lifted silverware since 2012. 

Hearts won their place in the semi by knocking out Aberdeen on penalties after an enthralling 2-2 draw. Rangers were victorious in West Lothian defeating Livingston by a goal to nil. 

When the sides walk out at Hampden, Rangers will be overwhelming favourites to win the tie as they sit level at the top of the Scottish Premiership having only had one defeat this season – to their rivals Celtic. 

Hearts, meanwhile, are currently second bottom in the league. Last night, they lost 1-0 in Perth to St Johnstone, and they have only picked up 23 league points in the whole of 2019. However, the Jambos will take heart from the fact that they held Rangers to a draw in Gorgie a fortnight ago and should aim to use the same tactics they did on that occasion. This will mean a big day for talisman striker Uche Ikpeazu who was a handful for the Rangers defence in Edinburgh.

If Hearts can somehow make the most of Ikpeazu’s hold up play and get players beyond him, they may think that this will not be their last appearance at Hampden this season.

The Ibrox side go into this fixture on the back of a convincing 4-0 victory over Ross County in Dingwall, with Ryan Jack and Alfredo Morelos scoring braces.

Rangers, confident as they will be, are not going to overlook Hearts and will know what to expect. If the midfield – led by an inspired Ryan Jack – can make use of the width of the Hampden pitch, then it will allow for wingers Ryan Kent and Sheyi Ojo to try and enjoy their respective one-on-one match up against the defenders in maroon. If Jermain Defoe and Alfredo Morelos continue firing goals for fun then, this could turn into a very long Sunday afternoon for Levein’s men. 

They will be looking to break a hoodoo of sorts at this stage of the competition. In the past three seasons, Rangers have lost in the semi-final of the Betfred Cup, losing to Celtic, Motherwell and Aberdeen.

 

 

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