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The key battles as Rangers take on Celtic for a place in the Scottish Cup final

© Craig Williamson / SNS GroupCeltic and Rangers face each other again this afternoon after the Hoops' victory at Ibrox a fortnight ago
Celtic and Rangers face each other again this afternoon after the Hoops' victory at Ibrox a fortnight ago

As Rangers and Celtic face off in the second Scottish Cup semi-final this afternoon, we measure up the key battles in the fight to face Hearts in the final.

GREG TAYLOR v JOE ARIBO

Taylor has been a whipping boy for a section of the Celtic support, who seemingly can’t forgive him for not being Kieran Tierney.

Yet the Scotland left-back has buckled down and thrived since the arrival of Ange Postecoglou.

Celtic’s Greg Taylor (Pic: Rob Casey / SNS Group)

The Australian’s system gets the best out of Taylor, whose energy and sheer doggedness have made him a perfect fit for “Angeball”.

Using Aribo as a winger – as Giovanni van Bronckhorst did against Braga on Thursday – helped the Nigerian rediscover the spark which has mostly been missing since he returned from a disappointing Africa Cup of Nations in January.

Joe Aribo (Pic: Craig Foy / SNS Group)

The 25-year-old was Rangers’ best player in the first half of the season, but has scored just once in his last 13 games. So the assists he provided for James Tavernier and Kemar Roofe against the Portuguese couldn’t have come at a better time.

CALLUM McGREGOR v AARON RAMSEY

Some players struggle with captaincy, finding the armband a burden. McGregor, though, has been inspired by it, leaving behind the lows of last season when it seemed he was carrying the world – or at least half the team – on his shoulders.

© SNS Group
Celtic’s Callum McGregor (Pic: Rob Casey / SNS Group)

At 28 and approaching his peak years, CalMac is once again looking like the complete modern midfielder, always demanding the ball in the tightest situations.

Ramsey hasn’t had the impact Rangers fans had hoped for when he arrived on loan from Juventus, with fitness issues predictably leading to a lack of game time.

© PA
Aaron Ramsey (Pic: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

He scored a superb opener in the 2-1 defeat by Celtic at Ibrox a fortnight ago, only to fade out of the game.

But a solid 80 minutes against Braga suggested that the Welshman could be ready to make an impact today.

DAIZEN MAEDA v CALVIN BASSEY

With leading scorer, Kyogo Furuhashi, not yet ready to play 90 minutes, and in-form Giorgios Giakoumakis crocked, Maeda could take centre stage at Hampden.

© SNS Group
Daizen Maeda (Pic: Rob Casey / SNS Group)

The 24-year-old has seven goals from 14 starts since arriving in January, while making a claim for the title of the hardest working man in showbusiness by relentlessly tracking, pressing and generally making a nuisance of himself to opponents.

With Connor Goldson still seemingly out of sorts, Bassey has had to accept more responsibility since moving inside.

© SNS Group
Calvin Bassey (Pic: Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

His pace and strength are his biggest assets and, now that Borna Barisic seems to have regained his confidence, he might remain in the heart of the Rangers rearguard.