On Sunday, Rangers face Motherwell in the Betfred Cup semi final at Hampden. Other games will eclipse this as we go through the campaign, but this is the most important match of the season so far.

Motherwell are in good form, only a point off Rangers in the league as things stand. Their 3-0 win over Aberdeen in the quarter final was the standout performance of the competition so far. Their style of play, which sees a lot of crosses from various angles, is one which can hurt teams as it doesn’t require a high level of consistent subtlety. That’s not to say they’re some sort of team of hammer throwers. They do possess a lot of height and strength, though, so they quite rightly use that.


Hibernian (League, Away) – 2-2 draw
Aberdeen (Betfred Cup, Home) – 3-0 win
Aberdeen (League, Home) – 1-0 defeat
Partick Thistle (League, Home) – 3-0 win
Hamilton (League, Away) – 2-1 win

The players to look out for at Motherwell are easy to identify. Louis Moult has been their top scorer for a couple of seasons, and looks set to continue that run. Chris Cadden is a real threat with his crossing and set pieces. Gael Bigirimana, one of the infamous Newcastle 5, has started the season well, and Cedric Kipre in defence looks like a good player. They have all of their best players available, and will be fired up for this match.

I can’t say for certain how Motherwell will line up. In the first game of the season, they started with a back 3 against us, and for the first half hour they struggled. Josh Windass, in particular, gave them problems in the wide areas. Once they moved to a back 4, they made the game far more even, and forced us to bring on an extra centre-half to see the game out. It’s clear to all that our main threat comes from wide areas, so I’d expect Motherwell to have the bodies in those positions. I predict they’ll go with something of a 4-4-2 and put pressure on our back 4 as often as possible.

From a Rangers perspective, only a couple of changes are expected. Alnwick is confirmed as a starter as per previous cup games. Despite Holt doing well against St Johnstone, I’d be surprised if he keeps his place ahead of Jack.







As we saw in our last game, there’s clearly been a lot of work done on defending set pieces. This will be key again. Morelos must be set to make a sacrifice to the gods for a goal by now, so he’ll be as up for the game as ever. The movement from midfield has been key in our last couple of wins, so will hopefully continue. We’ll need to be as strong defensively as we were against St Johnstone, or possibly more so as Motherwell are better from set pieces. The key battles in this game, as I see them, as are follows:


Peter Hartley managed to get himself some back page traction with a somewhat throwaway comment about wanting to fight with Morelos. There’s a suggestion that the Colombian forward is easily wound up, but it’s not really borne out by any evidence. The interview could have been construed as bringing the game into disrepute if it was taken more seriously, and I suspect that would have happened had Morelos been the one saying it. Regardless, the on-loan defender at Motherwell has made a good start for them, and has even chipped in with a couple of goals.

Morelos is probably going through the leanest spell of his short career, given how easily he scored goals in the last couple of years. It’s worth noting that he didn’t have any sort of summer break. He was signed when already a number of games into the season in Finland. As such, we may have to monitor him for any sort of burn out. He’s only 21, and certainly fit and strong, but mentally there’s always a chance of doing just that bit too much. He’s contributed well in every game, goal or not, and hopefully he’ll have that smile on his face again come Sunday.


Despite the headlines Louis Moult gets, Chris Cadden is Motherwell’s best player. A Scotland U21 internationalist, he has good pace, strength and delivery from the wide areas and set pieces. I believe his long-term future will see him move to right back, as it will suit his attacking style more, but at the moment he plays wide right and gives pretty much every full back in the league a hard time. If he keeps improving and working hard, he’s got a good career in front of him.

Declan John has started well. Obviously, his two goals against Hamilton were a highlight, but his dribbling and attacking play have meant we’ve not looked weaker without Wallace in the team. He defended well against St Johnstone, but this is a different test. He has a lot of confidence in his ability, so I’d hope the occasion doesn’t phase him.


Moult has started the season well in terms of goals. He had a great performance against Aberdeen in the quarter final, showing aspects of his game that aren’t as consistent as his finishing. He’ll be looking to cause all sorts of problems with any service he’s given, and can use his strength and pace to get Motherwell up the park.

Of our centre-halves, it’s clear that Cardoso is the one who will be targeted by physical sides. He’s growing into that challenge, but one mistake in defence is enough to make fans doubt your overall ability. It is fair to say he’s had a hand in a number of recently conceded goals, but he does more in a positive sense than a negative one. If he does make a mistake, he never panics or goes into a meltdown, which says a lot for his mental strength. Motherwell will look to hit Moult and he’ll look to rough up Cardoso, so this should be an interesting battle.

Overall, I think the game will be tight. We’ll have to be strong in the air, and win second balls more often than not. The atmosphere should be good if we play well, given how many tickets we’ve sold. I believe we’ll win the game 2-0, but it won’t be a routine one at all.

What are your thoughts for Sunday? Tweet us @rangersnewsuk and we’ll be happy to discuss!