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Sunday 8th December 2019

Rangers Celtic Betfred Cup

Betfred final key players

Craig Fowler looks at some of the players who could decide this afternoon's Betfred Cup final at Hampden Park...

Ryan Jack (Rangers)
Across the course of Steven Gerrard's tenure, Ryan Jack has developed and matured into a complete midfielder. He now belongs in the same conversation as the likes of Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie for the best midfielders in the SPFL. Jack, along with Steven Davis sitting behind him, is integral to the way Rangers play. If he can help the Light Blues dictate the flow of the match, then the Ibrox side will really fancy their chances.

Alfredo Morelos (Rangers)
The Alfredo Morelos-Odsonne Edouard debate adds an interesting layer to Sunday's battle. Which of these two top-class strikers will have the better game? Not only would it settle the argument for the time being, it will also massively impact on which team wins the cup. Here's hoping, therefore, that Edouard is fit so we can have these two titans on the pitch for 90 minutes.

James Tavernier (Rangers)
Borna Barisic may not recover from injury in time and that would be a blow for Rangers. The left-back's crossing has been such an effective attacking weapon in the Ibrox arsenal over the past three months. If he's absent the onus will be on Tavernier on the other flank to fill the void. The club captain hasn't had the best of seasons by his high standards, but he's still a devastating attacking player on his day. If he can tighten up his crossing, shoot with accuracy, and stay disciplined on the defensive end then he'll have a significant influence at both ends of the park.

Kristoffer Ajer (Celtic)
Few players are as aggressively progressive with their use of the ball as the Norwegian defender. Whether running through gaps in the opposing defensive structure or finding those avenues with passes, he is almost as effective an attacker as a defender. This is deadly against the rest of the SPFL, as teams routinely have to sit back and cover as many of the forward players as possible, freeing up Ajer to advance. It will be a massive boost to his side's chances if he can replicate this sort of performance against Rangers.

Scott Brown (Celtic)
For anyone who doubted Brown's continued worth, it was there for all to see on Wednesday with his injury-time winner against Hamilton Accies, a goal which puts Celtic two points clear in the title race. It wasn't just that he scored; it was the manner of the goal. He's never been much of a goalscorer - averaging fewer than one per 10 games throughout his career - but he showed no hesitation in taking on the responsibility. He fought for the loose ball, charged forward looking for the angle and willed it into the back of the net. It's this kind of determination that will be invaluable at Hampden.

Ryan Christie (Celtic)
There's a justifiable argument to be made that Ryan Christie is the best player in Scotland at the moment. The former Inverness CT man has been in incredible form this year and it shows absolutely no sign of stopping. Along with being an excellent technical footballer, and a regular goalscorer from midfield, he works about as hard as any player on the planet. The number of times he dispossesses opponents in their own half is astounding and makes him such an important talent in modern football, where it's all about the high press. He was the matchwinner against Aberdeen in last year’s Betfred final and has already scored 16 goals this season.