Former Celtic and Aberdeen striker Charlie Nicholas has slated Alfredo Morelos ahead of the Scottish Cup Semi-final this Sunday afternoon. Mick Beale’s side will be licking their wounds after being comprehensively beaten by Aberdeen on Sunday and throughout this season by Ange Postecoglou and his rampant Celtic team. Celtic have already won the League Cup and are a massive 13 points clear in the Scottish Premiership with just five games to play. Sunday will be another chance for the Hoops to give the Ibrox motormouth and his men another footballing bloody nose to maintain Celtic’s quest for another glorious Treble.
Postecoglou has got the better of the newest Ibrox club far more times than he’s been bettered; after narrowly losing his first one away from home in Govan, he has kept up his form in the fixture apart from one slip-up in the Scottish Cup Semi-final last year. The boss will want to correct that and see justice done for his Bhoys this time around, as we really should have won that one but took our eye off the ball and allowed them back in. Cameron Carter-Vickers missed a wonderful chance to double Celtic’s lead that afternoon.
Nicholas reckons that Beale should explore the idea of a false nine set-up to avoid playing Morelos in Sunday’s Hampden showdown, citing his remarkable downfall and ineffectual impact on games these days. Writing in his Scottish Daily Express column, Nicholas stated:
“(the)Rangers need to go with a false nine if they are to have any chance of upsetting Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final. At the moment, Michael Beale has an empty nine.
“Alfredo Morelos makes the team so predictable and, as first-choice centre-forward, he is not offering enough. He is a physical battler but he can’t run past opponents. Morelos plays on the edge of the game because he can’t get involved in the basics.
“Having found the net just 12 times in 42 appearances this season, he is on course for his lowest goals return in six seasons at the club. The Colombian can’t be relied on any more and he has become a burden for Beale, so the Ibrox manager should try something different at Hampden on Sunday.
“I would leave Morelos out of the starting line-up and see if he can make an impact coming off the bench. If Antonio Colak isn’t fit then deploying the likes of Malik Tillman or Scott Arfield as a false nine could be (the)Rangers’ best weapon because, as it stands, they don’t really have anything else. The talent at Ibrox is individual, not collective.
“(the)Rangers did OK in the first half of last weekend’s league match against Aberdeen, but it all fell down again because they have no pace up top. The stick being aimed at Beale after the 2-0 defeat was inevitable because his side weren’t clinical enough at Pittodrie.”
The Hoops legend also admitted that Beale’s men looked lacklustre in defence too and that will be a concern ahead of facing off against the Champions at Hampden Park too. He said:
“(the)Rangers defensive weakness was also evident, with this being the third game in a row they have conceded at least two goals. It’s probably no coincidence Connor Goldson was absent for all three games through injury, with John Souttar filling at centre-back. With (the)Rangers soft at the back, Celtic have to be clear favourites for the semi-final. I can see it being an end-to–end match and James Tavernier will be key to any success his side have. With the Scottish Cup their last hope of silverware, Gers need a big finish to the season.”
Nicholas concluded: “I think they do have a big performance in them, but it really needs to come out on Sunday.They have to produce. In the last Old Firm (sic) derby they were very good for 30 minutes because they went after Celtic. If (the)Rangers get the first goal at Hampden, it would make an enormous difference and allow them to play counter-attacking football.”
Nicholas believes that the only way for the Govan side to have a real chance of winning this one is if the Bhoys’ injury concerns keep up ahead of kick-off. “If Cameron Carter-Vickers, Jota and Reo Hatate are not all fit then (the)Rangers might have a wee chance because Celtic won’t be at full capacity. But, with the Hoops going for the Treble, I expect them to win.”
The bad news for theRangers is that all three are fit and you can add Liel Abada to that. And it is likely to be the same in theRangers line-up with the likes of Goldson and Kent returning from injury for this absolutely huge Glasgow Derby.