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Rangers were unable to lift their first European trophy in 50 years after they were beaten 5-4 on penalties by Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League final, following a 1-1 draw in 120 minutes.
Joe Aribo put the Gers in front just before the hour mark, but their lead lasted only 12 minutes as Rafael Borre tapped in from close range to draw the Germans level. The contest was eventually settled on penalties with Aaron Ramsey missing from 12 yards before Borre netted the winning spot kick to condemn the Scots to a heartbreaking defeat in Seville.
Nevertheless, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and co can be immensely proud of their impressive journey to the final, and they still have a chance of finishing the season with silverware as they head to Hampden as favourites to win the Scottish Cup.
Rangers have won the Scottish Cup 33 times in their 150-year history, but the last time that they had they hands on the trophy was back in 2008-09 when they beat Falkirk 1-0 in the final.
The Glaswegian giants beat Stirling Albion, Annan Athletic and Dundee in the first three rounds of this year’s competition, before winning 2-1 after extra time against Old Firm rivals Celtic in the semi-finals, to book their place in the final for the first time in seven years.
Rangers lost 3-2 to Hibernian the last time that they reached the final in 2015-16, but they will be confident of success against fellow Edinburgh outfit Hearts, as they have won each of their last three meetings against them, scoring 10 goals in the process.
Neilsen’s side will be aware of the threat that they are likely to face from a fired-up Rangers outfit this weekend, but they can take confidence from their last Scottish Cup encounter with the Gers, which saw the Jam Tarts win 1-0 in the quarter-finals in February 2020.
Hearts have reached the final twice in the last three years but lost on both occasions, suffering a 2-1 defeat against Celtic in 2019 before losing against the Hoops again a year later, this time on penalties after a 3-3 draw in 120 minutes.
The Edinburgh-based outfit – who have beaten Auchinleck Talbot, Livingston, St Mirren and rivals Hibs to reach this year’s final – have won the Scottish Cup as many times as they have lost in the final (eight) but one has got to give on Saturday, and victory would see them lift the trophy for the first time in a decade.
Rangers left-back Borna Barisic was forced off with an injury in extra time against Frankfurt, and the Croatian is now doubtful for Saturday’s final.
The potential absence of Barisic would likely see Calvin Bassey move over to left-back with Leon Balogun starting alongside Connor Goldson at centre-back.
Balogun and Goldson are two of four players, along with 40-year-old goalkeeper Allan McGregor and Steven Davis, who are out of contract this summer and they could all potentially be playing their last game for the club on Saturday, while the final may also be the last match for loanees Ramsey and Amad Diallo.
After missing seven games with a knee injury, Kemar Roofe came on in the closing stages of extra time in midweek, but it remains to be seen whether the striker is fit to start at Hampden. Either Aribo or Fashion Sakala could instead be given the nod to start up front.
As for Hearts, centre-back John Souttar – who will be joining Rangers on a free transfer this summer – and fellow defender Craig Halkett were both given minutes off the bench last weekend after recovering from injury, and the pair will be hoping to start in a three-man defence along with Toby Sibbick on Saturday.
With Beni Baningime ruled out for the rest of the season with an ACL injury, Cameron Devlin and Peter Haring are expected to continue in centre-midfield.
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Star striker Liam Boyce limped off with a groin strain after just 12 minutes last weekend and is a major doubt for the final, so Ellis Simms could lead the line in attack, with Gary Mackay-Steven and Josh Ginnelly joining him in attack.
Rangers possible starting lineup:
McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Bassey; Kamara, Lundstram, Jack; Wright, Aribo, Kent
Hearts possible starting lineup:
Gordon; Sibbick, Souttar, Halkett; Smith, Haring, Devlin, Cochrane; Mackay-Stevens, Ginnelly; Simms