Glasgow (AFP) – Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha says it is up to his side to find and exploit Celtic’s weaknesses when the Glasgow giants clash in their Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden on Sunday.
Celtic have enjoyed a flawless domestic season under Brendan Rodgers having already won the League Cup and wrapped up the Scottish Premiership title with eight games to spare.
A win at the national stadium on Sunday would leave them firmly on course for a first domestic treble since 2001.
But Caixinha says no team is perfect and it is his job to prepare his players to take advantage of Celtic’s flaws at Hampden.
“All teams have weaknesses — even the best teams in the world at this moment,” the Portuguese said.
“It’s difficult to pick out one from the Champions League semi-finals but if you say maybe it’s between Real Madrid and Juventus, they all have weaknesses.
“The only question is can you identify them? Can you get your team to expose them and then exploit them?”
Caixinha will take charge of Rangers for the first time in an Old Firm fixture after watching from the stands last month as his side claimed a 1-1 draw in their last league clash at Celtic Park.
Caixinha, who has three wins and two draws since making the switch from Qatari side Al-Gharafa, says he was looking forward to savouring the powderkeg fixture from the dugout.
“I’ve had them in Mexico, Portugal, Greece, Romania and with national teams,” said the 46-year-old.
– ‘ Fantastic environment’ –
“I like those type of matches and I like matches which are more about the strategical side of the game.
“I think I am going to be a guy who will enjoy the game and seeing if things are going to go the way we have worked with them along the week.
“It is going to be a fantastic environment and a fantastic football match. We need to be prepared to play it and win it.”
Rangers could welcome back veteran defender Clint Hill, who scored the equaliser in the draw with Celtic, for the match after the 38-year-old missed the last three matches with injury.
Meanwhile, Celtic’s chances have been boosted by the availability of their skipper Scott Brown despite his weekend red card against Ross County.
Brown is free to take part in the Old Firm derby after the club lodged an appeal against the dismissal, with the hearing scheduled to take place next Thursday.
The match at Hampden offers a chance for revenge for Celtic, who were knocked out of the Scottish Cup on penalties by their fierce rivals at the same stage last season.
However, Celtic defender Dedryck Boyata, who limped out of that game with injury, says redemption is not on his side’s mind as they bid to win a first Scottish Cup since 2013.
“It’s easy to compare to last year due to the fact we lost the game at the same stage. But last season was last season and this is a new season.
“It’s a new game for us and we will gear up for it like we did the previous four games against them this season and we will be prepared well.”
In Saturday’s semi-final holders Hibernian will take on Aberdeen.
Neil Lennon’s side will head into the clash on a high after they sealed promotion back to the top flight last weekend while the Dons are hoping to claim a place in their second final of the season.
Fixtures (Kick-offs GMT)
Hibernian v Aberdeen (1115)
Celtic v Rangers (1100)
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